Thu, 29 September 2016
#94: Building a Stronger Queer Community with the Debt Free Guys
Jenn T Grace: You are listening to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast, episode 94.
Introduction: Welcome to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast; the podcast dedicated to helping LGBTQ professionals and business owners grow their business and careers through the power of leveraging their LGBTQ identities in their personal brand. You'll learn how to market your products and services both broadly, and within the LGBTQ community. You'll hear from incredible guests who are leveraging the power of their identity for good, as well as those who haven't yet started, and everyone in between. And now your host. She teaches straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Your professional lesbian, Jenn - with two N's - T Grace.
Jenn T Grace: Hello and welcome to episode number 94 of the podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today I have an interview for you with the Debt Free Guys, David and John. We really kind of cover a whole gamut of topics starting with a little bit about their background, but then kind of diving into some really actual specific strategies around the best way to launch your personal brand, and really kind of leverage your personal brand. And then of course we talk about some deeper conversations around what's next for the LGBTQ community specifically. So this has been a really good episode, I hope you enjoy it, and if you are looking for information for the episode itself, if you go to www.JennTGrace.com/94 for episode number 94, you will find all of the information that you need right there. As usual if you have any questions, comments, thoughts, feel free to reach out to them directly, reach out to me, however you want to do it. I am on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, you can also go to my website, I'm pretty much Jenn T Grace on every platform so feel free to reach out with any thoughts that you have, and enjoy the show.
Alright so I want to focus today just kind of talking about you and your stories. I think when we were talking I had said that a client of mine found something that you had written in relation to personal finance, and then I discovered you and I was like, 'Oh look, how fun.' And since you so clearly state that you're husbands, and business partners, and the Debt Free Guys, and you just kind of put it all out there, I just want to start with your story and just kind of have you give a background for the listeners, and just kind of explaining how you got to where you are, and then from there we can kind of just organically continue on the conversation.
David Auten: Yeah so I'm David.
John Schneider: I'm John.
David Auten: And we are the Debt Free Guys. John and I are bloggers, authors, public speakers, we have a podcast called 'Queer Money' and our focus is helping our community, the queer community, live bigger and better lives by being money conscious. Our primary belief is that a strong queer community is a viable strong queer community when individually we are financially strong. It allows us to focus on helping not only the community, but doing work in service and finding ways that we can help change hearts and minds of individuals who may not feel that a queer life is the best life, or a life that adds value to the overall community. And that's kind of our focus more recently, we've really started talking a lot about this. We believe that as a queer community it's time for us to step up and help our larger community because they've done so much for us in helping us get the rights and privileges that we have today. And so we want to do that, but we also believe that we can't be distracted financially whether it's student loan debt, consumer debt, or just hating the job that we go to every day. So we want to help people, like I said, live bigger and better lives.
Jenn T Grace: So how long have you been doing what you do, and what was the original kind of spark that made you say that this- because if you think about starting a blog, it's such a long road to really kind of get your audience built and all that kind of stuff. So what made you think like, 'We have this message that we want to share. How are we going to go out and do this, and then how are we going to monetize what we're doing?'
John Schneider: Sure. So David and I got together about thirteen years ago, and about a year and a half after we were together we realized that between the two of us we had a total of $51,000 worth of credit card debt, and the irony is that we were both in financial services. We were helping other people with their money, but we obviously weren't helping ourselves. So we decided that we weren't living the lives that we wanted to live, we had got wrapped up in the clubbing scene, the partying scene, and this wasn't really the trajectory we wanted to go with our lives. So we decided that we need to pay off our debt, and we created a strategy to do so in three years, and ended up actually paying off our debt in two and a half years. And then shortly thereafter we moved from a basement apartment to buying a house in a high rise that overlooks the downtown Denver and the mountains. So our lives completely changed and so we felt both based on our professional experience and personal experience that we could maybe help others live better lives as well. So we wrote a book called '4: The Four Principles of Debt Free Life,' and that kind of started our journey as the Debt Free Guys. We published that about two years ago, but about a year prior to that was when we started to dabble into the blogging space and our first account was on- was it on Blogger? And we had several iterations since then. So we've probably been the Debt Free Guys and been blogging for about three years, our book was published two years ago, but it wasn't until last year that we went to FinCon '15 which was in North Carolina. FinCon is a personal finance blogger conference that kind of merges bloggers, and media, and banks and brokerage firms together to all kind of give everybody an opportunity to talk and to network. And when we were there, there were probably about 800 people in all spaces, and we realized that you've got your mommy bloggers, and you've got your dads, and you've got all sorts of different niches that are trying to help their particular followers live better lives by spending wisely, saving wisely. But there was nobody that was reaching out specifically to the queer community. And so David and I thought, 'Oh we're queer. We know these people, we are these people, and nobody's reaching out to us.' And like David said, we do think that in order for us to be a strong queer community, one of the pillars of that strong queer community is that we are financially strong as individuals. And so we thought, 'Wow, maybe we should start to nuance our message.' When we wrote the book and we were blogging before, we didn't hide that we were a gay couple, but we just weren't as I guess out about it as kind of a by-product of our message. Well now since for about a year we've been really targeting the queer community. That's how the Queer Money Podcast that we started in March came about, that was the impetus for that.
Jenn T Grace: So when you decided to create the Queer Money Podcast, what made you choose going with Queer Money versus some other word that you could use in place of the- or acronym that you could have used in place of queer?
John Schneider: So there were a couple reasons. One is I was starting to have trouble to say LGBTQA, and everything that we add to it. So it doesn't fall off my lips easily and I don't think the branding is really appealing. It looks inclusive but it kind of gets lost and muddled. Especially if you're not in the queer community, you kind of don't know what all those letters stand for. And the other thing is we have so many nuances of gender and sexual orientation that it started to feel- that we're starting to bifurcate everyone, put everybody in different silos. And we thought we want to talk to the entire community, we want to talk to all the LGBTQ people. So we thought that queer just kind of was the most inclusive word that we could come up with. We know that a lot of people don't like that word, but we think that we can change the definition of that.
Jenn T Grace: May as well, right?
David Auten: Right, and to be honest I like that word. I like the word queer. I know that for a lot of people in the past it has a connotation of being different, and being odd, or being less than. But I think that when we look at ourselves we are different, and it's something that we're proud of, and it's something that we wanted to bring into our podcast was the differences. When we look at the financial differences of what it's like for a gay couple who want to have children. What are the financial nuances around that? What are the financial nuances around a transgendered man or woman who's going through transition? What are their financial decisions that they have to make? And then maybe you look at other parts of our community and the financial decisions that we have to make around marriage. And for individuals who live in the 28 states where it's still legal for someone to fire you for being gay, there are financial decisions and choices that you have to make when it comes to wanting to get married. So we want to cover all of that in our podcast, and we are doing that, and we think that by identifying as queer it allows us all to be a part of this inclusive group where we're talking together about what we need financially.
Jenn T Grace: So I think all of that makes such perfect sense. So did you think that when you started out with this that you would become I guess personal brands in your own way? Because you are branding yourselves so succinctly as the Debt Free Guys, and then having Queer Money, was that kind of an intentional thing that you set out to do, or did it kind of happen organically as you've just been doing this?
David Auten: It's funny that you ask that question because I would love to say we're smart, but no all of a sudden it wasn't until a few months ago that we started to realize that Queer Money is becoming its own brand. We had worked for three years to make Debt Free Guys a brand, and then all of a sudden we're like- and oddly enough Queer Money is becoming a brand much more quickly. And so it's purely by accident but we'll totally take advantage of that.
Jenn T Grace: May as well, right?
John Schneider: When we originally sat down and talked about becoming the Debt Free Guys, we did have a conversation that lasted for several hours around who did we want to be? And our story at the time was that we were a gay couple who got out of debt and we wanted to share that with other people, but we decided to leave gay out of the title, and I think because we were trying to appeal to a mass audience, but with Queer Money we know exactly who it is that we're looking at and sharing conversations of success stories, and mistakes that we've made, and how as a community- like we've said before, can be financially strong.
David Auten: That said though, we do own the domain name Debt Free Gays.
Jenn T Grace: Nice.
David Auten: We might change that someday.
Jenn T Grace: That could be funny. Actually when I had skyped you as we were about to start I just typed in 'Gys,' I mean to say 'Guys' but I'm like, 'Oh I actually could go for 'Gays' too.' So it's funny that that works out well.
John Schneider: You're not the first person who has done that and said that to us.
Jenn T Grace: I feel like to a certain degree- so if you were the Debt Free Gays, right? So would there be some level of it sounding disparaging perhaps? Because if we think back to how queer, in so many ways you are part of that movement that's reclaiming the word queer, so it is something that means something more positive than previous connotations to it. What about 'the gays'? I feel like 'the gays' is something that you hear crazy right wing, completely opposed to anything LGBT related, say. But it would be interesting to see how Debt Free Gays would go. What do you think would happen?
David Auten: I think that that's one of the things that's part of our purpose, is that we want to change the conversation that even our gay community is having. One of the things that John and I have found is that especially gay men in our community, there is this strong sense of wanting to show everyone how fabulous our lives are. And unfortunately for a lot of people, a fabulous life does not also equal a debt free life. They hock themselves into financial ruin trying to live a fabulous life. But we want to share with people that gays can still have that fabulous life that is coming through the media. You know you see this on TV, every time you see a gay couple on TV they seem to be fabulous.
John Schneider: White upwardly mobile.
David Auten: Right, exactly. So we want to keep that idea that you can have a fabulous life, but you can also do this in a very money conscious way, a way that will allow you to live that fabulous life throughout your whole life.
John Schneider: Yeah I think it's ironic because we have straight friends who call us 'the gays,' and it's a term of endearment. But I do see media and certain demographics who refer to that disparagingly. What was weird too when we had the conversation about whether or not queer was a smart option to choose, I posted something linking to one of our Queer Money podcasts and I simply asked the question of, 'Can saying I'm gay get you fired?' I chose those words because I had 120 characters to use, and it was really interesting how quickly other people in the queer community came back and said, 'Transgender people can get fired and lesbians can get fired, so why are you excluding everybody?' I'm like, 'I didn't really mean to, I just only had 120 characters and I just went with that.'
David Auten: So I think the words take on the meaning that we allow them to have, and if somebody wants to refer to me as gay or part of the gays, I'm fine with that. It took a long time to get here, I'll stay.
Jenn T Grace: So what is interesting as you're talking, I think there's so many- when you're building a personal brand, you're putting yourself out there in many ways, and I think that what you're emphasizing is important for people who are listening who are part of the community, who are working on building a personal brand, that when you do decide to stick with one term versus another, that you are going to catch hell from some fraction of the LGBT community whether it's intentional or not. And I remember when I started with my tagline of 'I teach straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves,' I got a world of shit for that because I was saying gay and I wasn't saying LGBT, and I was saying, 'Listen if my marketing- if my primary audience are straight people, they don't know what LGBT stands for. It's my job to help teach them what that means.' And that's exactly what you're saying around the word queer which I think is super awesome. What you were just saying though, just I have a question here because I'm wondering if people bring this to you. I have been called out in rooms while I'm speaking or presenting on something when I'm talking about the disposable income of the LGBT community, or the buying power, or some flashy statistics of saying how great the LGBT community is from a consumer standpoint. But then there's a lot of data and studies that show that there is equal if not more poverty among people who are LGBT, and of course there's a lot of different variables on that. Do you find that people ever comment to you on that? Or are you addressing that issue kind of from a head on standpoint? Because it feels like you have the perfect platform to be helping people who may not be in the best socioeconomic status, get them there because this is what you do.
John Schneider: Right, we have seen statistics, I think the most recent one was 2015 that the queer community has about close to a trillion dollars in buying power, but that's excluding taxes and saving for retirement. But what's interesting is the cost to raise a child from the age of birth to eighteen (not including college) is about $245,000, and the queer community obviously doesn't have as many children as the straight community does, but ironically we only tend to have about $6,000 more than our straight peers when it comes to saving for retirement or savings at all. So there's definitely a disparity there and we've heard a statistic that we're trying to verify, I've heard it several times just not found the source, that about 40% of the queer community is in the service industry, food service or bartending. And so that kind of puts us kind of behind the eight ball when it comes to planning, and being prepared for retirement and saving for other financial goals. So we are cognisant of that, nobody's called us out on it or asked questions about it, but we are trying to address that.
David Auten: One of the other things that we have done a little bit of research on, and I think is indicative of to what has happened in our community, in the US so much of our personal net worth is tied up in the value of our homes whether you're in the gay community or straight community. And if you look at a lot of the people who are queer, they moved into areas, into cities, and specifically into neighborhoods that oftentimes in sixties, seventies and eighties, these were neighborhoods where they were less desirable, and that has completely changed. Those communities, those neighborhoods now are in many cases, they are some of the most desirable. I think of places like Castro or Chelsea in New York, even here in Denver Capitol Hill. And so a lot of individuals, although they did not earn a lot of money, they bought well in the sixties, seventies and eighties with their homes, and that has translated into a lot more net worth. So outward appearances I think for a lot of individuals is that we have- we're very well off because we are living in these communities, but I think that there's also statistics out there that show that as specifically as gay men, one statistic showed that a gay man will spend about $54,000 more on education, time and energy to equal the same pay as his straight white male counterpart. There's a lot of statistics out there that show that lesbian women and the family structures that they have, oftentimes they have more expenses but are earning less. There is this dichotomy in our community too I think that's even stronger than it is in the straight world, where we have some very, very, very high earning gay individuals, and that kind of throws off the average. So I think the average gets pulled up by individuals who are very high earners, but as John said that there is a significant number of individuals who are working in the service community, and they may not have access to be able to earn as much, or have not taken the time and effort to earn more in their lives
Jenn T Grace: So I totally agree with everything that you're saying. I was just at a conference and they were talking about LGBT business owners, and basically the revenue numbers of LGBT business owners. And depending on how you want to play the statistics, if you're looking at the pie chart in one way you can say, 'Okay it looks like 70% of them are earning less than $100,000.' But then if you're looking at a different way of framing that is, 'Oh the average LGBT business owner is making $2 million because that 30% that's over the $100,000 is so enormous that it completely overpowers more of kind of what the reality looks like. So when we're talking about statistics and numbers, and you're focusing on educating people, I'm focusing on educating people, and we're to some degree focusing on educating the same people. Where are you finding the most people who are resonating with your message? Do you have statistics on that? Or not even like real data, but just kind of off the cuff. Is it more men like yourselves? Is it more women? Is it urban, suburban? Like is there any kind of breakdown and is there anything that you can attribute to why that fan base is following you?
John Schneider: So we've done some market research a couple different ways and we find that our primary audience is gay men between the ages of 35 and 55, and their two primary concerns are number one, paying off debt whether student loan or credit card. And number two is saving for retirement. Why that's the case, I would think probably because we're gay men between the ages of 35 and 55 and we paid off credit card debt. But I also think it's about thirties and forties I think when people start to say, 'Alright well I didn't make as much as I thought I was going to make and I didn't save as much for retirement as I had hoped to at this point, so now it's time for me to get my act together. So I think that may be why that demographic is resonating with us. I also think while we've tried to reach out to the queer community, we haven't yet resonated or caught the attention of the other demographics within the queer community; lesbians and transgender people. But like David said we're definitely trying to do that. We think that people like you, and people like us, we have a platform and it's important for us to make sure that we're doing our best to try to lift all boats in the ocean, and not just focus on the white upwardly mobile gay people that we see on TV.
David Auten: Right. I think that one of the other things is that you look at some of the other demographics, and I'm going to specifically look at racial demographics- down racial lines. Individuals who are African American and Hispanic are oftentimes raised in households where money is very scarce, so they're raised with that scarce mentality, and so talking about money is something so foreign to them that they may not be attracted to a message like ours. And so we're trying to break that down. We've had several guests on our show who are African American, who are moving in that right direction, have businesses that are trying to work in their community as well as being in the queer community, to raise awareness around being financially fit.
Jenn T Grace: In terms of your- the structure of your podcast, have you proactively really sought out finding diverse people? Because I know for myself even getting people on my podcast, I try but yet a lot of times I still end up having lesbians on my podcast because that's who is a huge part of my audience. So I know that you said that that's kind of happening to you as well, just it's people who are part of your own demographic. Of course we all kind of gravitate toward people that are like us, it's just kind of human nature, so have you put together any type of strategy where you're thinking, 'Okay I'm really going to make a concerted effort to find more women, more people in the trans community, more people of color, or whatever it happens to be, or has it just been very kind of organic as you've gone through?
John Schneider: It's been sort of both. We've had African American people and lesbians on our show, probably fewer lesbians than African Americans. We have reached out to several transgender people to have them come on our show. The way we typically get guests is either through networking on social media and actually real life which is kind of scary. But we hear people make comments or they say things in different meetings or events that we're at, and we think, 'Oh that could be interesting on our show.' We're not typically focused on their gender or their heritage, it's more that they've got an interesting story to tell and for the most part that organic approach has worked out for us, but we have made some strategic effort. Because we do- there are some questions, and if David and I aren't familiar with what it's like to be transgender, and our concern is what is the cost of transitioning? And can we help people who are considering transitioning prepare financially so that they can do so and not impact their retirement or affect too egregiously other financial goals.
Jenn T Grace: Interesting.
David Auten: I think that we do like to look at a holistic view of our community. So we are actively looking for individuals in our community that fit these various niches within the group. Like John said, we have actively pursued going out and trying to find someone who is transgender. We have actively gone out and looked for individuals who can carry on a valuable conversation around what it's like to be a queer youth who is homeless. So we are looking for that because we know that it isn't just individuals who are listening to our show that identify with that, but it's individuals who are listening to our show that want to hear, like John said those stories, and know what else is going on in our community. That makes us stronger when we realize our diversity, and we appreciate that diversity, and can support each other.
John Schneider: Yeah I think a good example was when we had a show about- 'There Are Gays Richer than You' is what the title of the show was, and we had a lesbian on the show, she's a regular talk show host and a psychology professor, and she let us know- and this is our own fault for not being more aware, that 40% of homeless youth identify as queer. And we were like astounded by that so then that opened up another discussion. Like how can we identify these people and help them out with our platform? So that's why we started to seek out people who are helping and people who are a part of that demographic.
Jenn T Grace: That's so awesome. So do you have any plans of not necessarily having a philanthropic arm to what you're doing, but more of just kind of the giving side? I'm sure you're already very much naturally doing that, but in terms of being able to take the education you're providing people, that kind of added step further for the people that might not be able to afford working with you one-on-one, or whatever that might look like?
John Schneider: We have started doing that. We actually had an event in Philadelphia back in July, and the event was called Queer Money: Launching Your Success, and it was held at the William Way Foundation which is an organization that specifically caters to queer youth. And the desire of that event was to try to share with queer youth individuals in their community who have made a success of themselves; and success is all different kinds of definitions, it's not just financial, it's individuals who have built a life that they want. And so we want to continue with those events so that we can reach more queer youth and help them see that life does get better, and this is how it gets better. These are the people who have done it, and here are some examples, and you can use them as resources. So we have kind of a broad look at it right now with that. We aren't doing any individual one-on-one yet.
Jenn T Grace: So what is your vision? Because I feel like what you're up to is so amazing. Are you trying to move into a space where the two of you become bigger, more well-known public speakers, and really kind of having more of these events that you can be doing? I'm just curious because I feel like it truly sounds like the sky is the limit because you're doing such good work.
David Auten: Thank you.
John Schneider: Thank you, appreciate that. Such a reputable source. So our main goal is to strengthen the queer community so that we can fight the fight for equality which is obviously not yet over, and so that we can then- like David said earlier, we can be more impactful or powerful contributors to the broader society. Strategically how we're doing that, we're not myopic in any particular way, but we're focusing on obviously the Queer Money Podcast, we are writing as well, and then we are public speaking. Right now the podcast has most of our focus, but hopefully we can broaden that out a little bit more as the podcast becomes more self-sustaining.
David Auten: And when John mentioned that we are writing, it's not just writing at our site www.DebtFreeGuys.com. We are partnering with a number of other publications; Business Insider which is not known as a queer resource, but we work with them so that we can provide them with queer content. We also work with Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, and a couple of other websites and publications that allow us to kind of reach a very broad audience. One of the other things that we are doing, and if anyone who is listening is a part of this community, we are right now working with local gay magazines and websites to provide them with syndicated content that will allow them to reach their local community, helping them build that strong financial foundation. So for example there's a magazine in the Midwest where we have content in that magazine, and then on their website which will highlight not only our focus on providing the queer community with financial tools, but also providing our podcast so they can listen to it there. And really the desire is to build kind of a grassroots effort among queer communities that let's focus on being financially strong, let's focus on being a support for our community, and the larger community in general.
John Schneider: Yeah I think, as David's speaking, we're part of the queer community, but we're also part of the finance community. We've been in personal finance for 31 years, we've worked for big brokerage houses, and one of the things that David and I have noticed is that since June, 2015 the finance community seems to think that because same sex marriage passed, that there are no other issues that the queer community needs to deal with financially. And obviously as you know, that's not true. And so we're trying to- the reason why we're passionate about reaching out to those bigger- and working with those bigger publications is because we think that it's important, especially on their platforms, to show that there are nuances that are unique to our community, and this is how you can address them.
Jenn T Grace: Okay so I have two completely different trains of thought happening right now, so I just wrote one down to come back to in a minute. But the first one is- so the people who are listening to our conversation right now are people who are trying to figure out how to go about starting a personal brand, or maybe adjusting the one they have, or just being more conscious about what they're doing. So what I think you just mentioned is so incredibly important is about being in publications that are more mainstream publications, where the LGBT community is a sampling of the rest of the world, so we are from all diverse backgrounds, you name it. So you're strategically working on being in those types of mainstream publications. So my question for you is around what was your- I don't even want to say strategy because I'm sure there wasn't actually a strategy at the time, but like what was that first article, or source, or magazine, or newspaper that you landed where you recognized like, 'Okay this is so what I have to be doing, is focusing on getting more of this.' And then what did it look like to actually try to get more of them? Because I know a lot of people who struggle with getting mainstream kind of publicity in a way, but you're obviously coming from a place of giving value, which I think is easier to do it when you're doing it from that direction. But what has that process looked like for you, and what might you share as a tip for someone listening to this who's also trying to figure that out themselves right now?
David Auten: Sure so when we started Debt Free Guys and we started blogging we thought, 'Well we got out of debt, we've got a story to tell, people should just want us to write for them,' right? We thought Oprah was going to have us on her show. That's not how it works. And luckily it didn't work that way because our message has become much more clear, and our writing has gotten much more succinct and better. So I think in hindsight if we were to tell somebody the strategy to execute on, it would be to first start a blog. I have to tell you the first time we actually published something that actually had one of our names on it, wasn't just generically Debt Free Guys, it was scary. I walked around for like an hour before I actually posted it, but I knew it was something we had to do because when you put yourself out there, then you put yourself out there for the good and the bad, and I wasn't necessarily prepared for the bad. But so we wrote for about two years on our own blog, and then through the connections from blogging that we made on social media, we started to write for other blogs that may not be well-known to most people. But it helps get you out there and gets your comfortable with exposing yourself and your thoughts. And then the next catalyst to our success was we went to FinCon last year and we networked with a bunch of people. So whatever niche you're in, I would highly suggest finding your people, finding conferences of people who do what you do, and people who would support what you do, and we networked with a group of people who offered to syndicate our content, which was awesome. And so they were the first ones to get us on Yahoo Finance, and the first time we were on Yahoo Finance it was really weird. Basically what we did was we told our story of how we became the Debt Free Guys, and who we are, and we were pretty out and open about being a gay couple, and we were on the home page of Yahoo Finance all morning.
John Schneider: We were doing cartwheels and we both had day jobs at the time so we had to be like focused on somebody else's work while we were also consumed with our own. And it was at that point we thought, 'Wow this is really something that we can do something with,' and that's when we started to research. We hadn't really paid attention that much, but that's when we started to research that since June 2015 nobody's really been talking about LGBT money issues, and we can really help these publications reach a different audience, and also reach an audience that needs to hear the message.
David Auten: It was kind of funny that John talks about that first day we were on Yahoo Finance. I was sitting at my desk and around the cube comes- around the wall comes the guy who sat next to me and he says, "Hey come here." And I got up and I walked over to his desk and he goes, "This is a picture of you on Yahoo Finance." And I hadn't really been that out with people and sort of what I was doing, so that was a very fun experience. One of the other things that John and I would absolutely recommend if you're trying to grow your personal brand, and I think a lot of people kind of blow off Twitter, they think it's not worth it. Twitter is an amazing tool that allows you to connect with individuals who you may not be able to find otherwise at publications, at companies, at organizations where they would be hidden by or barriered by a number of walls for you to be able to get to them. So if you want to write for a particular publication, go out and see who on Twitter is a part of that organization. If you want to do public speaking for a particular school, go out and find who are the leaders that work with that school that are on Twitter. Start engaging with them in conversation. Don't ask right away, but just start engaging with them around what is it that they do, what is it that they want, what is valuable for them, and then you can introduce what you have that might be of value to them. One of the biggest pieces of advice that John and I ever got was don't ask for a handout, ask for a hand up. And that's very important. When you're going to a company, an organization or a school, and you want to work with them, you can't just say, "Hi I want-" and ask them. Just like with the sales process. We all want someone to kind of charm us, or we want someone to provide us with some sort of information that it gives them the invitation to sell to us. Well the same thing goes with our introductions to these organizations. We have something of value, you have something of value that they want. You truly believe this in your heart, that you have something of value that they want, you want to slowly introduce that to them, and Twitter is a great way to do that.
Jenn T Grace: I think that's such valuable advice, and I'm sure you are both familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk and his whole- he's an acquired taste for sure, however I enjoy his very aggressive and go-getting personality. But his book- and I actually handed it out to people that work for me. 'Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook' exactly exemplifies what you're talking about where it's really all about giving, and giving, and giving, and when the timing is right, asking for whatever it is that you need. But we all- and I think that at least the three of us talking right now are all coming from such a place of service where we're genuinely trying to just help the LGBT community be stronger and better regardless of what shape that takes. But I think it's so natural for us to be constantly giving, and then asking when appropriate. But I don't necessarily know that everybody can kind of translate that mindset into kind of their day-to-day business where maybe they're in a service-based business since you were talking about service-based before, it's a lot harder to actually find I think that right balance.
David Auten: I think that it's also kind of similar to when you want to go to your boss and ask for a raise. You can't go to your boss and just say, "Hey I want a raise." You've got to go with, "Well I did this, and I did this, and I did this, and I can do this for you, and I can do this for you. This is why I am worth X number of dollars or percent more." We have to do the same thing with the other organizations that we want to work with. We want to show them, 'This is what I've done for you, this is what I've done for you, this is why I'm valuable, why you should pay me to do something.'
Jenn T Grace: That's exactly, exactly it. So you've obviously learned to build relationships with media, and publications, and really kind of take the long strategic road of connecting with people on Twitter. Have you found any value in any other social media platforms, or have any just kind of general tip that might be helpful for someone just starting out?
John Schneider: I think it's important to find out where your audience is. Our audience, Debt Free Guys, Queer Money audience is on Facebook. But I know a lot of people in the finance community, especially the mommy bloggers, their community is on Pinterest. I know a lot of the media folks in our space, their biggest platform is LinkedIn. So I think you need to find out who it is you're trying to serve, and then make sure you have a presence there. It's not all about obviously just connecting and trying to grow your brand, but it's also about trying to serve, like you said, and we want to find out where the people are that you want to serve, and I think that's very important. It's easy to get distracted living in such a ferret society right now because there's so much social media, and somebody says, "Oh if you're not on Instagram you've been missing out." "If you're not on Pinterest you're missing out." And there was a time there when David and I were trying to be on everything and I think Gary Vaynerchuk is very good at figuring out how to appropriately be on everything, but our belief is that our audience isn't everywhere, and we can't be everywhere. So we primarily focus on Twitter and Facebook, but somebody else's audience and somebody else's business partners might be on different platforms. So our advice would be to find out where your people are and then be there.
Jenn T Grace: And there is a known strategy which is Pat Flynn's strategy of be everywhere, but I would caution against that especially just starting out to really don't go half-assing every social media outlet. Focus on like two where your people actually are, and really kind of hit it out of the park there.
John Schneider: Exactly, and we're actually going to see Pat next week.
David Auten: Yeah, and you bring up a very good point there of half-assing it. You only have so much amount of time, especially if you are starting out and this is your side hustle. Or you're just starting out and you do have some financial backing but not a lot. You have a limited amount of time. So if you only are able to spend a limited amount of time, do it where you can hit a home run. And not everything you do is going to hit a home run, but do it where you can really, really be effective. So if you're trying to hit seven different social media platforms, there's no way you're going to hit seven home runs in a row, it's just impossible, it's not going to happen. Not even Pat Flynn can do that, not even Gary Vaynerchuk can do that. Not everything that they do is wildly successful. So focus on building that audience in one or two places and then you're going to be able to hit a home run there, and once you get consistently hitting home runs there, move on to somewhere else.
John Schneider: Yeah I think what you want to do is try- you want to get a following and if you can get your 1,000 raving fans, then you're set for success, and it's easier to get those 1,000 folks following you if you're targeted, and it's easier to do that when you're on one or two platforms. Maybe when you get big enough and you have a social media staff and you want to be everywhere like Gary V, it's a little bit easier. But when you're just doing this in your kitchen it's a little bit harder so stay laser focused.
Jenn T Grace: Absolutely. Oh I love the paths that we've gone down, and I know that we're getting close on time so this will be the last question that I ask you, and then you can shamelessly promote what you have going on. But this stemmed from something earlier that you were talking about, and the question is what do you see as the next kind of big fight or great fight for the LGBT community? We know that we have marriage equality, which yay to some degree, but at the same time we still don't have equal protections in the workplace. So there's a lot of kind of stuff that's still going on. From your standpoint- so I guess maybe it's a two part question. Like what do you think is the next fight that people are going to be going after? But secondly, what do you think your role in that is with the platform that you have?
David Auten: Sure. I think John and I have had a little bit of discussion around this, and one of the things that we are very cognisant of right now is the differences from state to state, and that's one of the keys for us as individuals. I live in Colorado, you live in I think Connecticut?
Jenn T Grace: Yes.
David Auten: Is that right? Right, yeah and other people live in all these variety of other states. The laws that are affecting you as an individual, that will impact you the most are the ones that are at the state level. I think of individuals, and we've found this out recently, if you're a gay man or woman you can adopt a child in Florida.
John Schneider: That law just changed, I was corrected. Until recently.
David Auten: Right, but when you got married you were not allowed to adopt. So it's through our efforts as individuals going at the state level and saying, 'How can we make our laws more inclusive of all our community?' I think it's four states have laws that protect transgendered individuals in the workplace, we already said that 28 states have laws that allows an individual to be fired because they're gay. That's a state level issue, and when we can equalize things at the state level, then we're getting protections for everyone. And so that's one of our facets that we're fighting for now. We are going to be working at having individuals on the Queer Money Podcast that highlight those state level issues so that all of us can be aware of how different things are at the state level. It's very easy for us to say, "Oh well yeah, you live in the United States, you should be out." Well if you live in a small town in Arkansas and your life and your family is dependent upon the job that you have, and you don't want to move to a big city, or you can't afford to move to a big city, it may not be easy for you to be out. So we want to help try to change thinking at the state level right now.
Jenn T Grace: I think that's so important. So I was just at a conference and I was on a panel with a couple of people from large corporations and we were talking about supplier diversity, and being an LGBT-owned business and how by announcing that you're an LGBT-owned business to a company that you want to do business with- so say you're in Michigan and you want to do business with Kellogg's, it's all well and good that you have now outed yourself to this company, but what ramifications does that have if you're in a remote town in Michigan where it's not acceptable for you to actually be out. So you're outing yourself for this business opportunity, but at the same time are you putting your personal safety potentially at risk. And there's this very interesting balance of when it's safe to be out and when it's not safe to be out, and I think that for people maybe- I'm not entirely sure about the climate in Colorado but I know in Connecticut it's far less of an issue here and it has been far less of an issue for a very long time. But I know that if you go to Tennessee for example, it's a totally, totally other story. So it almost seems that having people in places like myself, or even possibly you, where we're in better situations so we can advocate for different states to kind of get that same level of equality that obviously we're all searching for.
John Schneider: Yeah Denver's pretty inclusive, we can hold our hands pretty much anywhere. But that's why I think it's incumbent upon us to spread that message. We're in the safe space, it's our responsibility, those who have more need to do more, and so it's incumbent upon us to use our platform and to use the safe space that we live in to make lives better for our brothers and sisters elsewhere.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah you're public figures, you have no choice at this point.
David Auten: And I think that's part of the reason why John and I make a concerted effort to reach out to some of those larger financial publications that are read by millions and millions of people across the country. We know that our article about being a gay couple and paying off our debt was read by individuals who live in small towns across America, and it's going to be the individuals who are reading that that are gay, that are going to be let's hope inspired by that to do the same, or to just feel comfortable about who they are. But it's also the individuals who are not who see that and say, "Yahoo Finance cares about gay people. That's interesting." Or "Business Insider cares about gay people. That's interesting." Or I should say 'queer.' They care about queer individuals. It just changes that message or that conversation in their head, and our whole- John and I have talked about this for a long time. Winning hearts and minds of individuals who are enemies when it comes to our lifestyle is one of the benefits that we have of being public figures, and we want to do that.
Jenn T Grace: It's a responsibility, yeah absolutely. I love it, we're so on the same page on so many things, I love it. So for people who are listening and now they're interested, they want to get out of debt or they just want to learn more about you, where are all the ways in which they can find you?
John Schneider: We are the Debt Free Guys, and so we're at www.DebtFreeGuys.com, and on Facebook and Twitter you can find us at Debt Free Guys. We have our book, '4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life' on www.Amazon.com and a couple other places, but I think Amazon is the easiest. And then like we suggested if it's not already apparent, our main focus right now is the Queer Money Podcast, which is on iTunes and Stitcher and Sound Cloud. We also have some of our videos for the podcast on YouTube at Debt Free Guys. So that's where our primary focus is right now, and we would love for anyone who listens to our podcast because of listening to your podcast to share with us any feedback; if they like anything, hate anything, if there's anything they want us to talk about, or anyone they think we need to reach out to, we would love to have that feedback.
Jenn T Grace: Perfect, I like it. And for the listeners, your first and last names? I know you said your first names in the beginning but just for the sake of it.
John Schneider: I'm John Schneider.
David Auten: And I've David Auten.
Jenn T Grace: Perfect. Beautiful! Well thank you so much for coming on the show, this will be out shortly, and of course all the stuff that we talked about, I'll make sure that I have links all in the show notes for the audience to just find this much easier. But thank you, this has been great, I really appreciate it.
John Schneider: Absolutely and thank you for the opportunity. When you have links and whatnot, let us know and we'll absolutely flood our social media with it as well.
Jenn T Grace: Beautiful, you bet. It should be out on- my plan is going to be the 29th, so September 29th.
John Schneider: Okay so I'll put you on our event calendar on our website. And then a long time ago we had talked about having you on our podcast, so I'll send you some information, see if we can schedule that.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah that would be awesome. Yeah, I would love to help in any way I can. It would be perfect.
John Schneider: Great, awesome.
Jenn T Grace: Well have a great rest of your day, I really appreciate it.
John Schneider: Thanks you too, bye bye.
Jenn T Grace: Thank you for listening to today's podcast. If there are any links from today's show that you are interested in finding, save yourself a step and head on over to www.JennTGrace.com/thepodcast. And there you will find a backlog of all of the past podcast episodes including transcripts, links to articles, reviews, books, you name it. It is all there on the website for your convenience. Additionally if you would like to get in touch with me for any reason, you can head on over to the website and click the contact form, send me a message, you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all at JennTGrace. And as always I really appreciate you as a listener, and I highly encourage you to reach out to me whenever you can. Have a great one, and I will talk to you in the next episode.
Direct download: Epi94-LGBTQ-The_Debt_Free_GuysJohn_Schneider__David_Auten.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am EDT
Thu, 15 September 2016
Jenn T. Grace – Episode 93 – How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Holding Up As We Enter the 4th Quarter?
Jenn T Grace: You are listening to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast, episode 93.
Introduction: Welcome to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast; the podcast dedicated to helping LGBTQ professionals and business owners grow their business and careers through the power of leveraging their LGBTQ identities in their personal brand. You'll learn how to market your products and services both broadly, and within the LGBTQ community. You'll hear from incredible guests who are leveraging the power of their identity for good, as well as those who haven't yet started, and everyone in between. And now your host. She teaches straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Your professional lesbian, Jenn - with two N's - T Grace.
Jenn T Grace: Well hello and welcome to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today we are in episode 93, and it is the middle of September of 2016. So I have a whole host of podcasts that I am about to record for you. So for the last I would say probably five, six, maybe even seven episodes I have had those kind of ready to roll for a while, and now I'm in the middle of batch recording a whole bunch of new awesome guests for you as well. However that is just about to begin as we're in the middle of September, so what I would like to do for you today is replay an episode from earlier this year which is episode number 75, and my intent here is to just give you an update on some of the things discussed in 75, then you can listen to episode 75 itself, and when you come back for a new podcast episode number 94, it will be a brand new interview. So I've really been trying to focus all of 2016 on bringing you amazing interviews with just really awesome people, and I want to continue that trend. So for the remainder of 2016 I really want to be bringing you interview after interview after interview of just really amazing people, and I have a whole awesome line-up of people to do just that for you.
So quickly in episode 75, which I believe was the first episode of 2016, I was talking about New Year's resolutions and essentially what things that I was up to, and I recently saw an article that said that people in September start to re-visit their New Year's resolutions essentially because now that the summer has long come and passed, people are going back to school, people are getting back into their work routine, that now's the time that people are starting to think about where they are in relation to accomplishing their New Year's resolutions or not. So for me, I had talked about three specific resolutions, two of which I thought were going to be fairly low-key if you will and not too difficult to achieve, and in reality I found out that it's a little bit harder than I thought. And then the third one just was difficult to begin with, and I'm actually still sticking to it quite well.
So the first one that I had mentioned publicly in January that my plan was, was to only have one cup of coffee per day for the entirety of 2016. I can tell you that I'm still doing pretty good on that, I was only having two cups a day so it was not a major crisis, and actually I'm trying to do half decaf now because I recognize that caffeine is a drug even though it's a common drug that we all use, and I'm just trying to be mindful of my health and all that fun stuff. But I'm doing pretty good. So the status update on that one is that I'm doing pretty good, I'm sure there's been a day or two here or there that I've had more than a cup but generally speaking I'm totally on track with that.
The second one that I talked about was not drinking in 2016, and I thought I was going to be a little bit better at this than I was. So I last had a beer on New Year's Eve, and I still haven't had any beer since, and we are in the middle of September. However I did fall off the wagon if you will in the middle of July. I fell off the wagon- and mind you when I say 'fell off the wagon' it's not like I started binge drinking because that's not the case, but I did start drinking gin and tonic again in July. So I did make it seven months before having a drink of any kind. So prior to that, from January through July, I did not have a single drink and I was really proud of myself on that, until one day my wife said to me, "Why are you doing this to yourself? It's not like you have a drinking problem, it's not like you needed to do this, I don't know why you continue to torture yourself over whether or not you should have a drink," and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it hit me that she was so right. So thinking about it I'm like, 'She's right, why am I doing this to myself? Do I have a reason for not doing this one activity that wasn't a problem to begin with?' So I decided what the hell, it's really not a big issue, I'm just going to go back to my norm which is having like maybe a drink or two at most in a given week. So again it's not a real issue.
But anyway, I did want to share that with you that I indeed broke my own resolution. So not everyone is perfect, and despite your best intentions sometimes your resolutions aren't really aligned well and they're not really helpful, and I think that goes for business as well. Sometimes we make goals that aren't in our best interest, and we stick to them out of ego and not necessarily because of any other reason. So I think this was one of those things that I had this resolution based on ego, based on just being able to say that I have done it, and in reality it was kind of stupid to do to being with. So I just threw that one aside.
Anyway the third one that I wanted to mention to you is that I declared publicly in January that I would be training for a full marathon, and that full marathon is on January 8th of 2017. So I am about four months away from running a full 26.2 miles, and that training is still going really, really well. At the time of this recording which is just a few days before the 15th- actually you'll be listening to this on September 15th which is Thursday, I just finished another half marathon on Sunday, and obviously I haven't run it yet so I don't know what my time is but I'm hoping it's better than the last one I did.
So I wanted to just kind of share that with you, especially for people who've been listening to this podcast for a really long time now, because I remember specifically when I decided I was going to start running, and that was August of 2013, on a whim I just decided randomly that I was going to start running, and I really was talking a lot about that journey, and that process, and how related it is to business, and kind of entrepreneurship, and all that stuff when I started doing that. So all of those old podcast episodes definitely have snippets of me kind of talking about the progress, and what I'm up to, and I still have people asking me about it. I was just at a conference a few weeks ago and I had people asking me like what the status of my running was. So I appreciate that you do pay attention to those things, and it is of continued interest to you. So as long as you are still interested, I will keep sharing.
So now you'll listen to the previous episode and hear me rambling on and on about all my reasons why I decided to put these two- these three resolutions in place, and now you at least hear the reality of what actually happened for them.
So one other thing I want to mention before I just hop into episode 75, is that I am still going gangbusters on helping people write their books in 2016 and beyond. So a lot of what's talked about in 75 is around the benefits of writing a book, what it can do for your brand, how it can help build your business, why today is the best day to just kind of start and get it done. So I wanted to just kind of share that with you because as of right now on September 15th I have helped twelve more people since January. So when I first recorded this in January I had already worked with a bunch of people previously, but as of this time now nine months into the year, I've helped twelve new people with their books. One person has already published hers, and that is Lindsay Felderman, and her book is referenced in the interview I did with her in episode number 87. Her book is titled 'Walking through Walls: Finding the Courage to be Your True Self.' So in episode 87 I kind of interview her on what it was like to put her book together, and really it was actually a really fun episode to produce.
And then I have another author who is about to publish her book in the beginning of October, so she will be one of the interviews that is to come in probably October or maybe even November, we will be hearing from her specifically on her experience with publishing a book, and what that's doing for her personal brand and all that great stuff.
So I'm really happy that I have helped twelve new people in the last nine months get their stories out into the world, at least get them started on the path of helping them write their books. So I bring this up because on October 3rd, that is when I am launching the third session of this year of the Purpose Driven Author's Academy. You've certainly heard me talk about it on the show, on previous shows, in my social media, if you're on my mailing list you've certainly seen it there too. So the Purpose Driven Author's Academy is really my online program that walks you through the entirety of getting your book concept narrowed down, to writing the book, to publishing it, to marketing it. So the whole gamut. It's a fourteen week program and the next session starts on October 3rd. So this will be the third one that I have done in 2016. All people who've participated in it are doing amazing, kicking some ass, it's really awesome. So if you're interested in that you can certainly go to www.PurposeDrivenAuthors.com, www.PurposeDrivenAuthor.com, or you can just go to www.JennTGrace.com and there's a button right on the homepage that will bring you to information about the program itself.
So that is all I wanted to share with you in today's episode, so if any of this is interesting, please feel free to reach out to me via email, Facebook, any social media, you name it I am there, and I am here to serve you. So please enjoy this repeat of episode number 75, and I will see you in a brand new episode in number 94 at the end of the month. Thank you so much and I'll talk to you soon.
Well hello and welcome to the New Year. I am looking forward to a great 2016, and I hope you are too. Now that we're in the new year, you're probably thinking of all the new year resolutions you could be focused on, or should be focused on, and today I want to share with you a couple of the resolutions that I'm working on, but actually how that's going to parlay into my new business focus for 2016, and basically how the podcast ducktails into that focus in 2016. So for my loyal listeners, what I'm going to be doing in 2016 is slightly different than previously in the last four years that I've been doing this podcast, but it really still kind of falls in line with much of what I've been doing.
But what I want to start with today is talking to you about a couple of the resolutions that I have for 2016, and none of them are too far of a stretch if you will from what I'm already doing. So I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll have a fairly high success rate. But what I've noticed is that unfortunately a lot of people create these monster resolutions; like just completely out of any realm of possibility, and when you do that, you're creating this wildly unattainable goal, and you're likely not going to hit it, and that's not what I want to share with you. What I want to be sharing with you are ways in which you can attain your goal. And I've noticed that people create these really unattainable goals for just a couple of different reasons. Most of the time it's because they aren't in the right frame of mind to achieve them, so when they create this goal it's not even something that they can really achieve, and sometimes this is done intentionally and sometimes not. And then a lot of times it's because people don't really have the right skillsets to pull it off, and they're not really committed to developing those skillsets to pull it off. So this is absolutely going to kind of fall into place with what I am going to be doing in 2016, and what I'm going to share with you.
But to start, here are just a couple of my non-business New Year resolutions if you will.
So for example, one of them is to drink only one cup of coffee a day versus two. Like I said, I'm not stretching too much with most of mine, and I'm only going to share three of them because the third one is going to be what really kind of plays into what I'm up to. But going down from one cup of coffee- I mean from two cups of coffee to one isn't much of a stretch, although I say this now and I'm not really sure how the caffeine withdrawals will go down. But as of right now it doesn't seem like it's that much of a stretch. I've already had my one cup of the day and I'm on to green tea, so I'm feeling confident that for the last four days- because today is January 4th as I'm recording this, I've been able to achieve that goal. So fingers crossed, goal number one, resolution number one should be attainable.
Now resolution number two on the other hand is to not have- this is going to sound crazy- not have a single drop of alcohol in 2016. And I've been hemming and hawing over whether or not I wanted to do this resolution for a couple of weeks thinking it's really not that difficult for me to not drink, because I'm not a heavy drinker in any way, so I might have a drink, maybe two, three at most in any given week, and I know people who drink that on a daily basis. So to me, it's not really- I don't think it's that difficult to not have any, however I don't know that for certain. So I've been thinking and hemming and hawing saying, "Is this really worth having a resolution over because what am I going to gain from this?" It's not like drinking is a problem in my life that I need to tackle or handle, but at the same time I'm really focused on my health and I know that extra sugar from alcohol is really not helping me, so why am I going to take in additional calories over something that I'm not even really enjoying so to speak? So that is another goal. And again, it's pretty much for purely health reasons, not because I have a problem that I'm trying to curb or anything like that, but really I just want to keep continuing on the path of getting healthier as I go. And 2015 I did I think a really good job continuing my health, et cetera, that I had previously been doing since back in 2012, 2013. So I'm still on a really good path in terms of my health.
Now this is where the third resolution comes in, and it's much more of a beast, and I have not publicly shared this information with anyone yet, so you my loyal listener are the first one to hear it other than my poor wife who deals with my random ramblings, and then a couple of close friends. But 2016 is going to be the year that I actually train for a full marathon. And now for you who may have been listening since the early beginnings of this podcast, you may recall that I started running mid-way through the first year of this podcast. And I was scared out of my mind, I had no idea what I was doing. I willingly shared all of my fears, and my trepidations with 'should I be doing this? Should I not be doing this?' And the reason I started running, and the same reason why I'm going to try not to drink in 2016, is for health reasons. So I had lost a lot of weight in 2012 and 2013, and it was about fifty pounds, and I just wanted to make sure that I could keep the weight off, and I've had no trouble doing that since 2012. So I feel fortunate that I'm going on a fourth and into a fifth year of keeping weight loss off, but a lot of it has to do with running because it's just a great activity, it's a solo activity or you can make it a group activity if you choose to. But I prefer to run solo because it gives me time to think about what I need to be doing, how to prioritize my business, and I think the best thing is that you're only competing against yourself, you're not worried about other people's time. So it's really kind of a solo 'let me try to see how good I can be and not compare myself to other people,' which I find to be really kind of peaceful in a lot of ways; and I am a very, very competitive person, as is my wife so it's a good thing she doesn't run because she would be the one person on this earth that I would be trying to compete against. So fortunately for me she does not. So anyway- a little tangent.
So tying this into the business, and tying this into today's episode, I wanted to share with you a little bit about this third resolution on my list, and it's not to run the marathon this year, which is 26.2 miles for those of you not familiar with marathon distance. But it's how I'm going about breaking down this really BHAG- as people call it in the business world, the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. That big monster of a goal, how I'm breaking it down to come up with a very clear plan that is attainable for me to achieve this goal. And now I won't be doing this until this time- almost exactly this time in 2017. So the race itself is on January 8th of 2017, and this is being released on January 7th. So I had to break down this goal into a variety of bite-sized chunks, and it really just started with picking a couple of races that I wanted to run this year which were half marathons; so that's 13.1 miles. And I ran two half marathons last year, and I'm planning on doing two more this year. So going back to the whole resolutions being attainable, running two this year should be no problem whatsoever, because I did two already last year. But what I'm trying to do is increase my speed just a little bit. So I'm not trying to go nuts, and I'm not going completely haywire, I'm really just focused on something that I think is attainable to me personally.
So for me this goal is something that I have to work on the entire year in order to be successful in doing it. If I do not stick to my plan, it's going to go rogue- I'm going to go rogue and it will go off the rails really quickly. So I spent about three hours over the weekend and I put together my plan. I started off with where I'm going to be racing, when I'll be racing, how many miles I have to do every week, how many times I have to run a week, and I went to my Google calendar and I put every single one of those in there, and I time blocked every single spot. So I know that every Sunday morning at or around 9:30 in the morning, that's when I'll be doing my 'long run,' which is usually seven to 26 miles at this point. It could be anywhere in between. So I have my plan super clear, super focused for what I want to achieve for my physical fitness in 2016.
Now it's a matter of figuring out what your goal is going to be for 2016 and how you could be laser focused on it too. Because I swear to you if you asked anybody in my life, and you can still ask them now, if they think Jenn plus running equals a good idea, I'm convinced that the vast majority of them would say, "You're out of your mind. Jenn will never run, Jenn has never run," et cetera. Like I had a pretty good reputation growing up as an athlete, but I was a pitcher for fast pitch softball, therefore I spent most of my time on the mound and helping control the game rather than physically running. And my softball coach happened to also be the track coach, therefore he had us doing running exercises that I felt were irrelevant to the game of softball, and I was terrible at it at all times. So my point being, if I can run a full marathon, I swear to you there is nothing in your life that you cannot physically do, or mentally tackle, or emotionally tackle, if I can do this. I am hell bent convinced of that, and I would love to talk with you if there's something that's really kind of blocking you, and you feel like you can't achieve it. Because if you break it down into bite-sized, manageable, day-to-day tasks, you can totally do it. In the case of running, it's honestly a matter of putting one foot in front of another for 26.2 miles. Of course there's a lot of other things that go into it, but basically speaking it's one foot in front of another.
With your goal, I don't know what that goal might look like at this moment, but what I want to talk to you about is authorship, and how writing a book can be your goal for 2016. And if it is your goal in 2016, how writing a book and running a marathon are identical processes. It might sound completely strange at this moment and so early in this podcast, but I can assure you that doing both of them are very, very similar processes. And my goal in 2016 is to help figure it out for you, and make your life a hell of a lot easier in writing your first book.
So now hopefully I have your interest piqued in this whole authorship thing, and how this kind of ties back into my business and the podcast. So just for a little bit of a recap, this podcast is going into its fourth year; so I did it all of 2013, all of 2014, all of 2015, and now we're entering into the fourth year. And I have done 74 previous episodes as we are in our 75th episode right now. Each of them, they're 45 minutes to an hour long. I also had another thirty episodes that were about a half an hour each that were part of a special series I did back in 2013 called '30 Days, 30 Voices: Stories from America's LGBT Business Leaders." So this is really kind of the 105th episode if you will of content around what my business does. And my tagline is that I teach straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Much of this podcast, and much of my business has really focused on the former, with really helping straight allies market to the LGBT community in an appropriate way, in a proper way, in an authentic way being genuine. So I really focus on helping people communicate better and market better. And most often I'm working with individuals who are in some kind of service-based business. So they are an attorney, or they're an accountant, or a financial advisor; a lot of people that have longer sales cycles. So it takes longer to build a relationship, therefore it also makes- it gives you more of a window of opportunity to kind of stick your foot in your mouth, and get yourself in trouble. So I have spent a lot of time really focusing on that aspect of my business, and that's really what my two- actually three. The two print books that I have, and then the eBook that I have, all three of them really focus on communications, marketing, really tactical stuff for how to avoid putting yourself into situations that is uncomfortable, makes you uneasy, et cetera.
Now while the focus has been to help straight allies in this, I've also helped LGBT people in this process as well, because there's a lot of things that even LGBT people are doing that weren't the most ideal thing. So while the focus has kind of been on the former of I teach straight people how to market to gay people, I've really been teaching gay people how to market themselves as well in very similar ways that I've been teaching the straight allies too. So the previous 74, or 104 if you're counting the Thirty Days series. They've all really been focused on kind of a combination, and it's all been around marketing, it's all been around how to get to your target audience, how to talk to them the right way, how to communicate to them in the right way, et cetera. So in early 2015, I think it was in February actually, I made a conscious effort in my business to say, "You know what? I'm want to focus a little bit more of my time on coaching individuals, coaching LGBT people, and working on the second half of that tagline, of teaching gay people how to market themselves more specifically than my advice that kind of crosses over to the ally community as well."
Now with that being said, I realized that there's a very clear pattern with who I work with. With the type of business owner, or the type of entrepreneur, or LGBT person that I work with. It seems like there's a very clear commonality that took me a little bit too long to see the pattern in all of them. But now that I have seen the pattern, it's very clear to me anyway that this is where I need to focus my business in 2016, and focus this podcast as well in 2016. And for allies listening to this, that does not mean in any way that you will not find really good, relevant information that is designed for you. You will absolutely still find a lot of value, I assure you of that. However I am focusing on story telling. And guess what? LGBT people or not, everyone has a story to share. Everyone has some kind of message that they want to get out to the world, and a lot of people are dreaming of being authors but they are frozen in fear with all that comes with being an author.
So while I'm talking specifically about wanting to help LGBT people share their stories, if you're an ally and you're listening to this, and you have a story that you want to share too, and you want to be an author to benefit your business, you listening to this podcast shows me that you are open-minded, that you're an ally, that you are someone who likely has a really good story to share, and I want to help you too. I'm not excluding you in any way, shape, or form, so please don't take this as feeling exclusionary because that's not my intention at all. And as I start talking about some of the books that I've been working on, helping people with, you'll see that it's been a really good mix of helping LGBT people and allies. So there's really no exclusion there by any means, because I do love you and I adore you.
So now what I've noticed is that I have been working with a lot of authors, and it kind of happened in a very unintentional way. And I've always realized that I work with a lot of creative people. So I really like working with creative people because I personally feel like I'm a pretty good balance of right brain and left brain, so while I can get on these paths of shiny-object-itis if you will, and really excited about something, and want to try all these new things and be really creative, I'm also equal parts logical, and reasonable, and rational, and think, 'Okay is this something that I should really be doing right now?' So I've managed to kind of tap into being able to use both sides of my brain, and it's benefited- I think, and I'm sure they would say too, it's benefitted the people that I've worked with individually a great deal because I can connect with them as the creatives that they want to be, but I can also say, "Alright let's be realistic about this and figure out how you can actually do any of what you're talking about doing right now." And writing a book is one of those things that's just- it seems like a really incredibly daunting task, and you might even be thinking right now, 'Why would I want to put myself through the hell of writing a book?' And I say you should absolutely do it because it will be a life-changer and a game-changer in your business, I can attest to that personally. But I also know that to be true for those that I've worked with.
So let me just share with you a couple of the projects that I've worked on, and you'll see very quickly the patterns and the commonalities here, even though it took me a little bit longer to recognize that this is absolutely where I should be focusing my attention. So like I said in early 2015 I had reached out and said, "Hey I would love to work on some more one-on-one coaching," and as a result of just sending an email to my list I had a handful of people say, "Yes I would love to work with you one-on-one." Out of that handful of people, about 30% of them were thinking about writing a book. So I don't know if it's because I have written a book that others have just trusted in me that I can help them write a book, but somehow that's kind of evolved over time. And in 2013 I wrote my first book, and that one is, 'But You Don't Look Gay,' and I'm sure you picked up on the humor and the sarcastic things that come out of my mouth, so I really kind of started that one off strong with, 'But You Don't Look Gay.' And there is reason for why I titled it that, it's written about in the book, and I've certainly talked about it on the podcast at great length. But it's really the six steps to creating your LGBT marketing strategy. And again it's designed for allies, but it's really applicable to LGBT people too. That was the first time that I had written a book, and I had not a single clue as to what I was doing. Literally no clue whatsoever. I've always enjoyed writing, and when I started this iteration of my business if you will, I started in November of 2012 writing blogs. And I was writing blogs addressed to people that I knew who had questions who needed answers, and I knew if I could answer their one question in email, why not throw it on the blog and educate some other people in the process? So that's really how my whole business started.
So I started writing this book when I started blogging basically. So I put all of the blogs aside, and I started to just kind of create this library of content, and then after I had probably- I want to say it was at least over 100 blog posts, I said, "Let me kind of organize this, add to it, take things away, and make a book out of it." And that was really the first book in 2013. Now I still had no idea what I was doing in terms of organizing the content, in terms of how do I get it on Amazon, how do I get a book cover designed, how do I get an ISBN number, how do I market this? Marketing is my background so the marketing piece actually was the easier piece, but everything else I honestly had no idea what I was doing.
So fast forward to 2014 when I write my second book. That one was a breeze comparatively, and it's also- it's not quite twice the length, but it's significantly larger than the first book. So it's just knowing what I know now, and knowing what I did in 2013, all of the mistakes I made because I made every mistake you can possibly hit, I think I did. But when I went to do it again in 2014 it was so easy; so, so easy. Now the hard part is actually writing the book. That to me is the harder part. So physically writing is what you need to focus on. So if you want to write a book, I can help you, I can shortcut everything but the actual physical writing part. However I do have some tips and tricks around that, too. But in 2013 I was working with a small group of other marketers, and just kind of a Mastermind group if you will, where we get together once a month, and we still do, and this goes back to about 2013. We still get together, and we just brainstorm ideas and I had shown them that I had written my first book, and one of the people in my group- or it's a couple, so the husband and wife, two people that I work very closely with, they decided that they also wanted to write a book. So when I began helping them, it was in a very informal way, and it was really just me wanting to help peers of mine shortcut the process. So I provided my template that I used for my first book, I said, "Here it is, it's in a Word document, here's the font I chose, here's the heading font, here's the paragraph font." I had very specific reasons for why I chose those based on design principles, and I just said, "Here. Take it, use it as a template, make your own book out of it." And then of course as they were going through it, I was one of the proof-readers for it, I gave them a testimonial; like we really just kind of worked together, again in a very informal way. So their book has been out for going on three years. I think they put it out in 2013, I could get up from my desk and walk over to it and tell you exactly, but I will put a link to their book in the show notes on today's podcast episode which you can get by going to www.JennTGrace.com/75 because we're in episode number 75. So if you want to check out that book you could certainly do so by clicking on that link, and it's on Amazon. So that was kind of the first time that I helped somebody else, and it was really just me helping friends get their stories out there.
So this happened a second time within that same group, but it wasn't until earlier in this last year, in 2015. So somebody else in my group who is also a marketer; he was working on his book and we basically did the same thing. So it's the same two people in that group and him, so now it's the three of us teaching this one other person in our group what we did. So I shared my stuff with Mike and Maria; they're the ones that did the first book. And then myself, Mike, and Maria showed the other Mike in our group how to do his book. And now his learning curve was shortened dramatically as well because Maria and Mike had gone through all of the same kind of hiccups and failures and successes of what they used from my starting point when I gave them my book information.
So as you can see, the more times this kind of happens, the easier it really becomes for everybody involved. So Mike- the other Mike was very grateful and acknowledging me as helping him in getting that book done, I did a good proofread of it, I edited a little bit, and that came out in early or mid-2015 I want to say. So that book also available on Amazon which I will include in the show notes.
So now I had my two books, and their two books already, so that's four we're already at. And then I had a third eBook that I'd released in 2015 earlier this year about marriage equality. So five books already kind of under the belt.
Now the process for all five books was a little bit different, and it really just kind of varied based on the size of book, what the intention of the book was, so am I writing this to get more business? Am I writing this to become a well-known authority in my space? Am I writing this to give it to my clients to just give them something to hold them over between coaching sessions? Or between projects? So there's a lot of different reasons you might want a book, and it's a matter of kind of identifying what those are, and then creating the best book that's going to get you that end result.
So now if we talk about 2015 a little bit more, I have been working with three people in particular throughout all of 2015, and we'll be going into 2016 on books of theirs. So one of theirs was previously a guest on this podcast, Ann Townsend. She has written a book called 'LGBTQ: Outing My Christianity." She and I have been working together for about going on I think a year and a half or so, so we've been working together for a while. She already has one book written, she's working on a couple of others, and we work in a one-on-one capacity, and just helping her just kind of shortcut the process where possible, making introductions to her to people in my network that could be good contributors. So it's again, while it's in a formal coaching capacity, I'm really kind of just sharing my knowledge and wisdom to a friend, and just trying to help as much as I can just make the process a little bit easier for her. And since she's already done one book, it's made life a little bit easier for her because she kind of already knows how the process works.
So that's just one person that I have been helping in a somewhat informal capacity. But then the two people- the two books that I have worked on in 2015 have been in a very, very, very formal capacity. And one of them just launched in November, so just a couple of months ago, and it's by Tony Ferraiolo and his book is called 'Artistic Expressions of Transgender Youth.' And his book is on Amazon now, and I helped him with the entirety of this book. From choosing a book cover, to figuring out what stock and weight of paper that we wanted to use, what size, what printer we wanted to go with, how we were going to get it on Amazon, how we were going to market it, who the end audience is; you name it, we have worked on it together, including putting together a book signing that was in December of 2015. So his book has been really, really hands on, very, very tactical, here's how I shortcutted the process for me, but what we learned in the process is that Amazon does not print hard cover books. So if you want to go use CreateSpace which is an Amazon book creation tool, there are no hard cover options; or at least when we were looking for him, or the size that we were looking for. So we had to go print separately which just creates a whole other level of chaos, complications, et cetera. It's also more expensive, but we've been going through that process for much of 2015, and now that is down to a science. So he is going to be working on volumes two, three, and I think a fourth one; all of which are going to be as easy as can be because we've already learned from doing the first one of that type of style- that style of a book if you will.
Now it was at Tony's book signing that I knew for a fact that I needed to focus on helping people share their stories in 2016. There is no two ways around it. If I could identify an epiphany or an 'ah-ha' type of moment, it was absolutely at his book signing. So his book- and he's also been a guest on this podcast as well, so I'll put a link into that in the show notes too, and the book. But his book is a picture book, and it is art drawn by transgender children who range from as young as six to as old as I think 21. And he asks them a question, "If you had all the money in the world, what would you buy?" And they're kids, they're young people, so they just draw what they feel. And then they write what their drawing means on the back of it. So we compiled all of this into a picture book. So I think a good marketing play for us would be to be packaging the book with tissues because it is a tear jerker, I assure you of this. And it's so good, so if you're doing anything in the transgender space of the LGBT community, this book is seriously amazing, and I don't say that because I had any part of it. It's just the content of it is amazing.
So for his book we did a book signing in New Haven, Connecticut, and one of the kids who is in the book showed up with their mother, and we had a special stack of books waiting for the kids who were in the book to come and get a special signed copy of the book. Additionally Tony had his own copy where he wanted the kids that were in the book to sign their page of the book. So for Tony, this is a life changing experience to produce this book, because it's so much of his hard work, and so much of his story, and the kids that he works with and their journey, put in a very neat package for the outside world to understand. However, it didn't occur to me- and I guess it did but it wasn't as profound as the actual physically being there for this to happen. I guess it didn't really hit me of how impactful the books would have on those who are included in them. So there are dozens of children whose artwork are in this book that is really deep and meaningful to them, and one of them as I had mentioned- actually more than one, there was a handful of them that were all there for the book signing. One of them was kind enough to be helping me swipe credit cards to sell the books which was really cute because I think he's nine. So yeah, so fun, had a great time. And one of the kids came in- and mind you they're walking behind their mother, a little bit timid, a little bit shy, I don't know this kid at all. I've run into them at a couple of Tony's events that we've thrown, et cetera. And I was sitting behind the table with all of the books, and I was watching them interact with Tony, just kind of seeing everybody's crying, everybody's teary eyed because the book is so emotional. And then I am watching them go out of the small book cafe that we were at. And as they were turning the corner to go out the front door, kind of walking a couple steps behind their mother, they had put the book which is just this very nice, hard cover- you know like a children's picture book landscape. They put it up to their chest, and I could see the biggest sigh, like you could just see their body, kind of their shoulders rise up and then exhale, like it was the biggest, deepest breath that I could see from about ten feet away, that no one else caught because no one's paying attention to people leaving, everyone's chatting. And I knew in that moment, my hair on my arms stood up, I had chills, I had tears in my eyes thinking, 'Holy shit, this book has changed that person's life.' There is no doubt in my mind that that book is a game changer for that one individual child.
Now knowing that all of the blood, sweat, and many tears that Tony and I put into getting his story out there; there is not a single dollar amount in this world that could replace the experience of seeing that one kid who's featured in that book, and how much that's changing their life. Like there is just no way of counting how incredible that experience is.
It was in that moment, like truly in that moment, that I realized, 'Holy hell, I need to use my process oriented, operationally focused brain in helping people like Tony, and like others that I've worked with like Ann, and Mike and Maria, and the other Mike, and helping them get their stories out to the world. Because I've done this as many times as I have at this point, that to me the actual logistics, the nuts and bolts, the BS of it, the stuff that makes people want to bang their head against the wall and pull their hair out; that's the stuff that I love doing, that's where I thrive. So knowing that I have that skillset, and somebody with such an incredible story has something to share, and it's that lack of skillset that's stopping them, it was truly that 'ah-ha' moment where I was like I have to do this. I have to focus 2016 on helping you get your story out. So there's a couple of other things that kind of dovetail into this epiphany, and like I said I didn't realize how many authors I was already kind of working with. And I have another author who I am not mentioning by name yet because I'm waiting specifically for when her book is out, I cannot wait. I really- just like with Tony's book, I felt just as proud of having Tony's book released as I did my own. Like I honestly felt that much pride for his work as I do my own work, and it's going to be the same thing for this other book that I'm working on. And this one's been really different because it's equal parts manifesto, it's kind of corporate focused. There's a lot of interesting nuances to this book, and one of them being is that this particular author isn't really a fan of writing- or she's a really, really good writer actually, but she just doesn't have the time or the focus to sit down and write. And just that thought of having to write just really kind of stressed her out for a long time that she kept putting it off, and putting it off. So we found a really good solution to have her basically be interviewed by somebody, which is then the basis of ghost writing that we can use to put into a book. And now this book is being more traditionally published if you will. So everyone else that I've worked with has been down the self-published road, which at this point you're much better off going self-published because the royalties of a traditionally published book are so high that if you're trying to make money off of publishing a book, it's certainly not going to be going down a traditionally published path, or at least in my experience. I'm sure there's many people who would debate me on that, but in my experience it's just- it's really costly. So with her, we found a way to really kind of navigate her busy lifestyle, and get somebody else to write the meat of the book, but in her voice because she's actually spoken it to somebody who's recorded it, and now they're using the transcripts to write the basis of the book.
So there's that one that I will be talking much more about on this podcast as it progresses. But I think what I would say that my toughest- yeah I would probably say my toughest hurdle to cross in 2016 as it relates to book writing is that I started writing a fourth book in early 2016. It's around LGBT, around how to leverage your LGBT status as a business owner, and really finding new opportunities, all that kind of stuff. It's probably 70% written I would say, but it hasn't been a strong enough priority for me to get it through that last 30%. So it's just kind of sitting shelved for right now, that I'll get back to it at some point. What book it ends up being, I have no idea, but it'll end up being- it'll end up coming out at some point.
However what I did have is another epiphany over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I realized during Thanksgiving that I needed to write a book that has nothing to do with LGBT, and co-author it with my wife, who has no desire to be an author really because she's an educator. She works in special education, she's a behavioral specialist, and we realized that we needed to write a book about the trials and tribulations and judgment that we face as two people trying to raise a child with mental health needs. And this was truly an epiphany, and it was more of an 'I have to write this book for my own well-being,' like 'I need this book in the world because it doesn't exist.' So my wife and I are working on that, and I think that it's not really challenging so to speak for the book writing aspect because we're collecting stories from twenty to thirty other families in similar situations to ours, so I'm going to be getting a lot of content from other places. But we've been talking about how are we going to use this book to help position my wife in more of an authoritative space so she can use this as somewhat of a launching pad into potential new opportunities for her. We have no idea what that looks like right now, none whatsoever. However, we're constantly talking about it, we're just going to keep kind of ruminating on it and figuring out where that's going to bring her, but that's going to be getting her to have the status of being an author, which will be a game changer for her in her community, because authors in her community are likely far less than in the business community where- I don't want to say everybody has a book, but a lot of people have books now, so it's not that uncommon to have a book. It's almost- it's becoming more common to have books, or to feel the need to have a book, to just basically stay afloat and keep up with a lot of people, of course depending on what niche you're in. So this is going to be definitely more challenging to figure out how to get her brain to wrap her head around how we're going to do this. So that's something that I'm focusing on in 2016 around authoring and doing more in this space.
So I tell you all of this, and I don't mean to over-simplify and try to pretend that writing a book is not a total pain, and I'm not going to try to sugarcoat it, because it really still is a pain. It totally, totally is. And even for me who I've done- I've been involved in a handful of them at this point, almost a dozen of them at this point. There's nuance in all of these basically. So what I want to emphasize I guess is there are ways to shortcut this process, and what I've realized is that I only have a limited amount of time because I am working with people one-on-one, I have Fortune sized clients, I have some larger consulting contracts; so I'm kind of a little bit all over the map in terms of what it is that I'm doing, but it's all still around LGBT; that's totally the core of what I do.
Now what I wanted to do, and what I am doing, is on February 1st I am launching a group program, and it's only for twelve people at most. Twelve people, that's it. And I've chosen twelve people specifically so I can make sure that everyone's getting enough one-on-one attention. But it's going to be in a group format, and it's going to go for ninety days, and my goal is to walk twelve individuals through the process of becoming an author in ninety days. Now the end goal for some people is to have a book done and launched by the end of those ninety days. For others it's a matter of getting them organized, and giving them the information that they need to then write their book at the end of the ninety days, and use that information to take it across the finish line. So everyone has a different goal, and I'm not trying to force people in saying, "If you're part of this program you have to have a book in ninety days." I know that's not realistic, I know that's not attainable, and I'm not going to put pressure on people in that way. So a couple of weeks ago before the holiday chaos kind of hit us, I had sent a quick email to my list, and five people responded within like a matter of an hour. And of those five people I have four of them who've already committed to the group, and I have a fifth person who is like a 95%. So I already have five people committed to this group that starts on February 1st. It's going to go regardless of the number of people who end up in it, but twelve is the cut-off. So I have room for seven more individuals who want to put a book out there in 2016.
Now I'll tell you a little bit about what the course looks like, just so you have a general idea. And I don't have a name for it even, it's that new of an idea, and just talking with five people and all five of them saying, "Yes, for the love of God, yes I need to do this. I need to get my story out there." That validates everything to me. It validates absolutely everything, and that this is the right path to go on. So it's so new that I do not have a name for it. I'm calling it the Author Program Live right now, because it is a live program. It's not a, 'Here, log into here and just watch some videos.' It's really- it's me, it's you, and it's eleven other people learning how to do this at the same time you are. So the benefit to that is everyone's kind of at a different stage of what they're doing. So one person I talked to has about 85% of her book written, and she just needs to figure out how to get that last 15% written, and then how to do all of the dirty details of 'how do I actually publish it? Where do I go? How do I get registered with the Library of Congress? How do I get an ISBN number? How do I market it?' Et cetera, et cetera. So there's just a ton of weedy details that people hate that I already have figured out that I can just completely shortcut, you don't have to stress about.
So it'll be ninety days, so from February 1st to April 30th. It will be a good kind of first quarter, going into the second quarter project. And it's going to be kind of sharing things like the tools of the trade, how to re-purpose your existing content if you have it, deciding on what you're going to write, how to position yourself as an expert if that's what you want to do, deciding if traditional publishing is better than self-publishing for you, although much of it will focus on the self-published road. And working with an editor, how to figure out your publication date; all of these really kind of annoying details, in a lot of ways, very annoying details. And the more I guess the one-on-one component of it, is that it's going to have twelve sessions- so it's really about twelve weeks, and they're going to be sixty minutes, maybe up to ninety minutes via a webinar on Tuesday nights at 8:30 Eastern time. And I have chosen that time based on the availability of the five other people who've committed to this, and I would love for you to be able to attend live. But if you can't it's not a big deal because I am going to record it and make it available to you after the fact. It will be available the following morning, if not that night. And each week is going to discuss some kind of topic in detail, it's going to have open Q&A so if you have specific needs that you need answers to right then, bring them to the table, we'll talk about it. We'll also do some laser coaching to get you over any particular humps and hurdles that you have. And then occasionally we're going to have some guest speakers thrown in who have already been where you are, and need that extra push to- you need that extra push from them to kind of help you get through this. So it's not just the live webinars once a week, it's also a Facebook group. And I chose Facebook because everyone's there, I'm not going to try to set up some separate site that you have to remember the log-in info for, completely forget it, and then have to be a total pain. So Facebook is a likely source that you're already on, so I'm doing a private Facebook group that will be with me, my assistant, and the up to twelve participants that you can ask questions at any time. You don't have to wait until we connect on Tuesday nights, you can just ask your peers what they think. So if you're in the process of designing your cover for example, why wait? Throw it up there and say, "Hey everyone, here's cover A, here's cover B, which one do you like?" So you can do a lot of stuff like that, or "Hey I really need somebody to look at my intro and tell me if this makes sense." Or "I just wrote the book outline, I don't think the chapters are in the right order, but I don't know how to put them in the right order. Can you help look at this?" So really it's a matter of having this- and not just me because I don't have all of the answers, I just happened to have done it enough times that I know where to find the answers. But now you have eleven other peers who are in this group, who can totally help you shortcut the process too.
So- and one of I guess the really exciting things I'm personally excited about, and this actually came as an idea from one of the people who've already decided that- 'sign me up,' is you're basically forming your own tribe of people. So now if you have eleven other people in this group with you, and your mailing list has maybe 200 people; so it's not a lot of people, but for your business it's a healthy size and it's great. But you also have somebody in your group who has a mailing list of 20,000 people for example. And they're really excited, and engaged in what you're doing, that they can- when you're doing your book launch, you can reach out to them and say, "Hey can you share my book with your list?" And you can figure out a whole bunch of different affiliate marketing types of things, and commission, and there's a lot of things that I'll go into in this course. But just from a general standpoint, you now have eleven people who have audiences who may have a connection to what you're writing about, that can then amplify and magnify your reach exponentially, and to me that is so amazing. So you're getting actual support in the weeds of getting it done, but then when it comes time to launch the book, you can shoot yourself to best-seller status on Amazon very, very, very easy by having this amplification of other people's tribes to help you get there. And I'm really excited about that, because I got both of my books to Amazon best-seller status, and it was not an easy feat, there are ways to do it I think more efficiently than I did it, and I know this is one of those ways. So it's just a lot of stuff like this that I'm just really, really excited about, and this is why I know that doing this is the right path for me personally.
So I do want to point out really quickly who the program is not for. Honestly, because there's a couple of types of people in here that I don't want part of the group, and I do want to have a conversation with you first prior to you joining. So if you're looking for a magic pill to just snap your fingers and all of a sudden you have a book, it's not going to work. I assure you of this. Or if you're resistant to changing your ways, it's also not going to work. So we're really going to- you have to be willing to shake things up. You want to be reaching outside of your comfort zone, and say, "This is a priority for me, I can make these certain changes in my life to accommodate this priority." And then if you're just comfortable and complacent, and you don't really have any drive or desire to be kind of reaching higher heights and peaks in your business, this probably isn't going to be for you. So I wanted to point that out because I'm not allowing people who don't have the right chops if you will to be in the program. Because having somebody who's kind of lackluster about it, it's just going to kind of be a wet blanket on the rest of the group, and I really want to protect the sanctity of what we're out to accomplish here in this particular group.
So if any of this sounds interesting to you, the only website I need you to remember other than you can just go to my website and contact me there, is going to www.MeetWithJenn.com, and that brings you to my calendar, and you can schedule a time to talk to me between now and February 1st and tell me if you would like to participate in this program. And it's just really a matter of me- for you and I getting to know each other, just for thirty minutes or so, to find out if you're a right for this program. And if you are then hop on in and we will make sure that you get your book in 2016.
So that my friend is the lay of the land for 2016. So really my commitment to running a marathon is going to be similar to your commitment to writing a book if that's what you so choose. So if that is one of your goals, I want to help you achieve that goal. If writing a book is not part of your goals, there are plenty of things in this podcast throughout this year that are still going to absolutely be relevant to you. For example one of the- actually the next podcast on January 21st is going to be with Dorie Clark. So if you don't know Dorie Clark, she is a marketing strategy consultant. She writes for the Harvard Business Review, Time, Entrepreneur, the World Economic Forum; she's kind of all over the place, and she's a recognized branding expert. So she has two books. One is called 'Reinventing You,' and then she has a second one which is called 'Stand Out,' and it was named the number one leadership book of 2015 by Inc. Magazine. And I don't know about you but I love Inc. Magazine, and I love Entrepreneur, they're two of my absolute favorite magazines. And she also happens to be an out lesbian who's making a huge impact on the world. So she's the first interview that I have in 2016, and it's very kind of my standard interview format that if you're a listener of this podcast you are very familiar with. But we talk a little bit about her book and writing content. So to me a book is just one more form of content creation, and that's the one I'm going to focus on, for me helping people in 2016. But all other forms of content creation are absolutely going to be coming up in this podcast, so don't think that I'm only going to talk about book creation on this podcast, because that is likely not going to be the case. It's going to be likely similar to what's been going on in the past, where I bring to you information that I think is going to be relevant to helping you market to the LGBT community, or market yourself within the LGBT community. So either way there's going to be plenty of information for you, I promise.
So as I mentioned, all of the things that I talked about, links to certain places, links to my calendar, past interviewees that have been on the show; you can go to www.JennTGrace.com/75 or you can just go to the website and click on the free podcast link in the navigation bar. Either way, you will find yourself to the page with all of the information. So if you are looking to share your story, and you think what I've been talking about makes sense for you, please reach out to me. For me personally, having a tangible outcome from somebody that I'm working with is honestly the best feeling, reflecting back on that experience with Tony at his book signing. If I can be the conduit to creating more opportunities like that in 2016, it would be an honor, truly an honor to be part of that journey no matter how big or small, part of that journey with you. Honestly, seriously can't wait. Cannot wait for 2016, I'm really excited about this.
So anyway, until the next episode, I hope you have a great week, keep your head held high, and go out and just kick some ass in your business, will you? Have a great one, I'll talk to you soon.
Thu, 1 September 2016
Jenn T. Grace – Episode 92 – Build Your Brand by Following Your Intuition with Rick Clemons
Jenn T Grace: You are listening to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast, episode 92.
Introduction: Welcome to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast; the podcast dedicated to helping LGBTQ professionals and business owners grow their business and careers through the power of leveraging their LGBTQ identities in their personal brand. You'll learn how to market your products and services both broadly, and within the LGBTQ community. You'll hear from incredible guests who are leveraging the power of their identity for good, as well as those who haven't yet started, and everyone in between. And now your host. She teaches straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Your professional lesbian, Jenn - with two N's - T Grace.
Jenn T Grace: Well hello and welcome to episode number 92 of the podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today marks I believe the twelfth episode in a row of interviews. So here we are, yet again having another interview. I believe the record started in February of this year, and now we're already into September, and we're still going strong with interviews.
Today's guest is Rick Clemons who is the coming out coach. He is a speaker, he is an author, he has his own podcast, he's really kind of made a mark in this world around helping people come out for whatever reason that may be, which isn't necessarily LGBT, which he talks about in our time together. Also one of the things that is interesting is that in the 92 episodes of this podcast, I don't think I've ever talked in detail about intuition, following your gut, understanding your soul's purpose or your journey in life, and all of that kind of stuff. And it's really great to take I guess 92 episodes to finally get here, but Rick shares such incredible wisdom, and guidance, and you could totally tell that he's a coach just the ways in which he articulates things in such a clear way for people to understand. I feel certain that you are going to really, really enjoy what Rick talks about. So I hope you enjoy the interview for sure, and as always if you're looking for links to today's episode you can go to www.JennTGrace.com/92 for episode number 92, and there you'll find the transcript, any links we talk about, ways to contact Rick, all that great stuff. It will all be there and accessible to you. So without further ado, let's just dive right into today's conversation with Rick Clemons.
So I am thrilled that you're on the show, so if you can just give a high level overview of who you are and what you do for the listeners?
Rick Clemons: Well my name is Rick Clemons and I'm a lot of different things, but I think the thing that I'm most aligned with in my current work is I'm a coming out coach. And of course the assumption that's going to first be made by most people that hear that is, 'Oh he works with gays and lesbians, helping them coming out of the closet.' And that is true, but it is also true that we all have challenges in life, and things that we're hiding from that we're all coming out of. And I feel very blessed that I've found the parallels here to not only doing the beautiful work that I've been blessed to do with individuals who are coming out of the closet in their sexual orientation, but to also now have found a parallel path to working with entrepreneurs who are trying to escape cubicle nation and be their own thing, or working with someone who's in a relationship that's very challenging and helping them to come out to the truth of, 'I don't need to be in this kind of relationship.' Or it could be, 'I want to be a stay-at-home mom and I want to come out of feeling guilty for wanting to be a stay-at-home mom and not contributing to my family's 'income' in the traditional manner.' And I feel really excited that every day I get to wake up and help someone come out, own their confidence, see their unique space in the world, and do something that I call make their quirks work, whatever that quirk is. Your quirk could be your beautiful talent, or that thing that other people tell you you can't do, and I love helping them come out to be themselves and make their quirks work.
Jenn T Grace: And how did you figure out that this was kind of your calling? Like how does one decide one day that they want to help people come out? Where did that stem from?
Rick Clemons: Well it came from my own journey. I was 36 when I really faced my truth. I had been looking at it for numerous years, I had come out to my family- or at least my parents, not everyone. I had come out to my parents when I was 19 years old in college, and I wouldn't say we were ultra-religious but there was a religious element to them saying, "No you can't be that, that's not who you're supposed to be," and I went back in the closet. And I went- so without a lot of kicking and screaming so to speak I went and said, "Okay well maybe this isn't who I am." And even from that moment that I stepped back in, I knew I was in denial. I didn't realize the magnitude of the denial because it was more self-preservation to step back in, and then as each day moved, and then life became what I thought I was supposed to be; get married, have kids, have a successful thriving career. I worked all over the globe for a software company for six years and then I started working for a startup, and it was in those critical years of those two positions that I got laid off, and the second layoff was really the opening of the new closet door. I'd already come out of the closet as a gay man, been through a divorce, become a single parent, I'm getting used to that with two very young ladies; my kids were eighteen months and six years old when I came out. And then suddenly here I find myself laid off right in the midst of my divorce, and no real possibilities of what I needed to be doing in sight for a career, but I knew one thing. I knew I was done building other people's businesses. I was going to go find something and I was going to make it mine, and that was the beginning of the calling Jenn, that was really when I was like, 'Hm something's happening here, and I'm going to pay attention to it.'
Jenn T Grace: And now how did you know what things to pay attention to? Like you felt that entrepreneurial itch and recognized that working for someone else was not your path, but you definitely felt this calling. Was it small kind of breadcrumbs that led you to your direction? Or was it more of a big kind of like hitting you in the face type of obvious things?
Rick Clemons: I think it was a mixture of both. There was definite small breadcrumbs where as soon as I got laid off from the last position I thought, 'Okay well I'm just going to start doing some consulting type work.' I'd been a marketing guy, I'd been branding, I've helped develop brands, and so I started doing that. And this was in 2005-2006 so the age of the Internet was really just beginning to take off, social media was becoming the thing, so I followed what I knew how to do. But what was so interesting, and this was probably the first big like whack upside the head, was as soon as I started doing that I could feel the just- this isn't what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm tired of writing copy, I'm tired of designing brochures, I'm over hiring PR agencies. And of course by then I'm working for very small businesses, and I mean small like mom and pops on up to maybe businesses with maybe 100 to 200 employees at the most, just helping them as an ad hoc marketing person. And I was just- I was getting internally frustrated and it made me realize something was missing. And at that moment, as I'm kind of knocking on the door going, 'Okay universe, God, my lovely gay angel, somebody tell me what I'm supposed to be doing here.' At the same time I became surrounded by other individuals- mostly men, a few women, who were coming out, who had been married, most of them had kids, but they were surrounding me, coming to me and saying, "Hey you've done this pretty well. You seem to have a decent relationship with your ex-wife, and you have a relationship with your kids. What's the secret sauce so to speak?" And the more I was surrounded by those people the more I started going, 'Well this is interesting. Everybody seems to come to me and I enjoy giving them advice, asking them questions,' and then the next thing I knew in my practice- or in my consulting practice, I started getting quite a few coaches; life coaches, business coaches, and I saw the light. Like wow, I like what these people are doing. And it was ironic because back in 1996 when I went to work for the software company I had actually been integral in working with a coach in our organization because we were going through a triple merger, so we had purchased two other companies and there was a lot of egos in the room so to speak, and so we brought in an executive coach and I was pretty integral in having her work with her teams. And I thought, 'Wow I really like what she's doing, that would be really cool, I wish I could do something like that.' And I even talked to her about it but I'm like, 'Wait you just got hired on here, you're just getting going, you're going to go screw everything up and jump ship?' And so it's interesting how the universe kind of delivers that stuff. And then literally five years later when I got laid off from that job, ironically one of the first things that I got in my email was an invitation to check out a coaching program. I'm like, 'Wow this is kind of ironic.' And I looked at it, and of course when you're laid off and no sign of income coming in, and you're trying to pinch pennies and make sure money isn't just floating out the door, and you're in the middle of a divorce and learning to have to pay child support and alimony, I just kind of looked at it and said, 'Yeah that's a nice thing but I can't do that right now.' So the universe heard me and took it away. But then suddenly here we are now, 2006 - 2007, all these people are surrounding me wanting help, and all of a sudden I have clients that are coaches, and my clients started saying, "You're so much different than a consultant. Yes you do that sort of thing, and you help guide it, but you're asking us questions that make us really think deeply about our businesses. You really need to think about becoming a coach." And that was when the lightbulb went off.
Jenn T Grace: Interesting. So that's awesome that the universe- like you were saying kind of took it away and then brought it back when it was the right time to be brought back.
Rick Clemons: Well I think there's that phrase the universe is going to keep teaching you the same lesson until you finally listen. It's going to keep showing up and I actually now believe- wholeheartedly believe in that. Even as I'm doing this podcast with you there's stuff going on in my life right now that are lessons that I've been hearing and listening to, and it's almost a daily, 'Okay are you going to finally step in and listen to that message?' And when I- typically when I do that, I mean it's a rare, rare occasion that if I do that then it doesn't work. But when I fully align and step into that, that's when really amazing stuff happens in my life.
Jenn T Grace: And is that something that you feel can be taught to people? So I absolutely listen to my intuition, and I firmly believe everything happens for a reason, that the universe gives us signs. And I've kind of always felt that way but I've been on more of a path to really kind of hone in on that even more specifically, but I feel like a lot of people think it's all like woo woo and none of it really makes an impact. For you, was that always kind of the case for you, that you recognized that the universe was telling you these things? Because I feel like this is in so much alignment with running businesses, like having clear goals, and having very specific things that we're trying to achieve, and if we're not- if it's in any type of misalignment then it's not going to happen. But how did that kind of evolve for you, or was it just always there?
Rick Clemons: Well I fully and 100% believe it's always there. What I know now, and I'm not saying I'm some guru who is the end all be all, but what I do know for myself now is- it's always been there but what I was incapable of was accessing it in the way to really appreciate it. And now I realize when I access that energy, and when I access that intuition, and I act on that intuition- and I know this to be true not just for me. I have good friends, I have mentors, I have clients that I've watched this occur with. When we trust our gut intuition, almost 100% of the time- I'm going to say 100% of the time that's when what we need most actually happens. That's when the success steps in, that's when the relationship shows up, that's when we quit living in doubt and in fear, is when we trust our intuition. Our intuition to me- again this is just my perspective, is our greatest guide to being fully in alignment with our soul and our purpose here on this planet. And that can be in love, it can be in business, it can be in relationships, it can be in your calling, but when you are in that kind of alignment, anything becomes possible.
Jenn T Grace: I totally, totally agree on all of those fronts. Is this part of what you are sharing with your clients, this type of stuff?
Rick Clemons: Absolutely.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah.
Rick Clemons: Oh yeah, absolutely. Because what I've found through the coming out process- and mine was a long journey and everybody's is different, but through- and none of us ever stops coming out, so I want to really caveat that because there are still moments that as a gay man I'm coming out every day in different ways, in different groups, in different things, and so it's a very interesting journey. But as I have gone through this, there's a couple things that I have learned. Number one, I am who I am, and that's what makes me unique in the world. Now some would say, "Yeah you're not the only gay person." I realize that, but being gay the way I'm gay and how I make it a part of my life is my unique way of doing it. Secondly there's this beautiful piece of owning that uniqueness in the world. And it's not that I'm unique because I'm gay, there's a lot of things that I'm unique. I'm unique because like you I can do a podcast and it's just a flawless thing I can do. I can put myself behind that microphone and I can just go. I can go stand up on a stage if somebody were to knock on my door right now after we do this podcast and said, "You're needed on a stage in twenty minutes to give a speech," I could go do it because I just know that this is some of my innate uniqueness that I need to tap into that power and go with. The third thing I know is confidence resides within each of us. How we access that confidence, and how we use it is the key critical piece. And when you put all those magical things together- so knowing that you're always going to be good at something, that you have a unique space that you take up on the planet in a very beautiful way, and that confidence is at your disposal any time you want to access it. It becomes pretty powerful that then is when you can stand in your own beautiful space and are capable of doing whatever you set your mind to.
Jenn T Grace: So how do you get somebody out of that they've never kind of operated like this? Like what is your first point of recommendation to them to kind of push them out of that comfort zone and into a space that they've never really operated in before?
Rick Clemons: Well the first question I ask someone is what is it you most want, and why? And the why is very important. I mean one of my favorite authors and guy that just has always inspired me is Simon Sinek and his book, 'Start With Why.' To me the 'why' is the key critical piece. The 'how' you can figure out, the 'when' you can figure out, the 'what' you can figure out, but if you're not clear on the 'why.' I know why I do what I do. I do this work because I love the feeling of watching someone else step into who they truly are without guilt and shame, and it brings me pure joy and happiness when you can see someone do that because it reminds me of the reflection in the mirror of what I'm meant to be doing in my own life each and every day, being exactly who I am, and that's why I do it.
Jenn T Grace: Absolutely.
Rick Clemons: There's too many people on our planet walking around not doing what they're meant to be doing and being what they're not meant to be because they bought into everybody else's idea of, 'Well you need to be this way, or you need to be that way.' I want everyone to just be themselves. That doesn't mean- that doesn't mean we're all going to like what each other is, but that's okay.
Jenn T Grace: That's what makes it great.
Rick Clemons: Yes, absolutely. But the first step is that 'why.' Really get clear on that 'why' because I think too often- and I know you've probably seen this Jenn yourself in the work that you do, the first question most people face is, 'Okay well what should I do? Or what should I be? Or how am I going to do that if I decide that's what I am?' We can get really caught up in those questions but then when you turn and ask someone the question, "Okay the 'what' and the 'how,' but why are you doing this? Why do you want to be that? Why is this important to you?" Those are the really big questions.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah and all the details that can be completely sorted out later. And I like that the 'why' is the first thing that you talk about because one of my keynotes is about 'why.' You know really trying to get to the crux of why you're doing what you're doing, and I ask it regardless of who my audience is. So I have my straight audience and I have my LGBT audience, and it's still always the same question. So for the straight audience any time I'm in any type of consulting capacity, or a sales- like a prospect meeting or anything like that, my first question is, 'Well why do you care? Why the LGBT community? You could be marketing to any other community, why this?' And that's my way of weeding out if I'm going to work with a company or not, because if their 'why' is really crappy and it's not genuine, then I'm not putting my name and my reputation on the line to help somebody that has that inauthentic approach. Versus the company that is coming from a really great place with good intentions.
Rick Clemons: Yeah I had the really beautiful opportunity last evening to attend a movie premier for a friend of mine who his film just premiered here in Los Angeles at a film festival. And I knew the name of the movie, I knew he was the producer of it, and so we get there and the movie gets ready to start, and then lo and behold he's actually one of the actors in the movie. I didn't know this. And as I watched him perform- and we're not super good friends, we go to a networking event together once a month and so we've become casual acquaintances, and as I watched this person that I've had really cool conversations with portray this character, and knowing that he was the producer, and he was the writer, and played a lot of roles in this film, it just really brought the question forward of 'why.' Why did you step into the role of acting? So the movie ends and as they do at film festivals they bring the directors, and the producers, and the cinematographers, and some of the actors up and they have the Q&A. And the first question that somebody asked is, "So why did you do the acting in the movie?" And it was so beautiful because he wasn't intending to be in the movie. They kept trying to cast- they shot the movie in Brazil and they kept trying to find the right person to cast in that role, and they just couldn't find the person that they thought would really, really, really fit. Now they're already in the whole production crew, and it's a small production crew but it's an hour long short film so it's a rather- it's a pretty big thing for them to have flown people to Brazil, and they've got a cinematographer, and different people. They've probably got a crew of about fifteen people just waiting around, but they don't have this character. And he stepped into it and when somebody said, "Why-" when that question got asked he said, "Because this is what you do to get the movie made." I thought that was such a beautiful response. It was just wow, this is what you've got to do to get this made. Now of course as he talked more he goes, "And I realized I'm a piece of each of these characters. I'm a piece of this character here," and there's only four characters in the movie, and he talked about how there was a piece of him in each of the characters, but the one character that was missing was the piece of himself that was the most himself. And it was just ironic to hear him say that, and the 'why' was not only to get the movie made, but it was kind of to bring full circle who he was in all four of these characters in the movie so that (I loved his 'so that')- so that everyone who ever watches this movie can somehow truly relate to all the pieces of themselves that may be showing up in two people, three people, four people, ten people. But so they can see the complete essence of themselves in others.
Jenn T Grace: That's brilliant. That's so awesome. And it kind of shows that entrepreneurial spirit too of you have to do what you have to do to get the job done, and sometimes that's pushing your own limits and putting yourself in a role where it wasn't really your intention but to get the show to go on you had no choice.
Rick Clemons: Yeah. Amazing stuff.
Jenn T Grace: So in terms of kind of what you were just saying of people showing up as one person, two, three, four; I find that to be very common in the Internet marketing space, online marketing, even people who do speaking. So how do you- especially doing something so significant that you're doing, how can you or do you see people showing up differently? Because I think one of the things, especially because you have an online presence, you have a podcast, you have a following, you're out speaking in places; how do you stay grounded I guess maybe is the question. How do you stay grounded and make sure that you're always kind of representing your true authentic self, whether that is on your own podcast, on this podcast, on a stage, at a networking event? Because I think that is a very hard balance for a lot of people, and it's even more so when you're more in the public eye. So how does that look in your world?
Rick Clemons: Well it's all based in my journey. It all stems from the 36 years that I wasn't myself. That I hid and couldn't seem to get beyond what other people expected from me. And I remember the day that I first came upon one of my own personal mantras that really sums up the answer to your question. And my mantra is this; trust in yourself to be yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself. And as long as I stand in that phrase to the best of my ability- and I always caveat it with that because nobody's perfect, but as long as I can trust myself to be myself in every way, every day, and give myself that gift, then that's what people are going to get. Whether it's this podcast, my podcast, whether I'm writing an article, whether I'm doing an interview, whether I'm standing on a stage; as long as I can trust myself to be exactly who I am, then there's really nothing to worry about. Now others could say, "But what about what other people think?" Well I trust myself to not worry about what other people think. "Well what about if you screw up?" Well I trust myself that if I screwed up on something then that's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing in that moment. Is it easy to stay in this space? Hell no, it's not easy because we all get faced with challenges. But that became the key mantra for me is I lived for 36 years not trusting myself to be who I was. I trusted myself to be everything that everybody else wanted me to be, but I didn't trust myself enough to take a stand and to say, "This is me and you can either be with me or you can not be with me, and that's okay." I think that's a big thing too, is to realize as someone- and I know you've written books Jenn, and all of us approach this differently. I personally will read my reviews, I won't react to most of them because I don't see the point in it, and I had to really learn to trust that I'm not going to be everybody's cup of tea and that's absolutely okay. It's okay to not be the end-all, be-all, the Holy Grail for everyone, but be who you need to be first and foremost for yourself, because when you are who you are for yourself, your energy reflects that you're okay with everyone else being who they are for themselves, and the right people that are supposed to come into your world whether it's your friendships, whether it's your relationships, a working relationship, your followers; then those are exactly the people who are supposed to be there. Where we get hung up is when we try to bring everybody into being who we want in our life and then suddenly it's like it becomes that, 'I need, and I compare, and I've got to be like such-and-such,' and man, in my opinion that's when everything crumbles.
Jenn T Grace: I just genuinely love what you're saying because I feel like these are all things that I think about, and I to some degree follow in my mind, but you're articulating them so clearly that I am loving it right now. This is awesome. So as we're talking about personal branding, because this is what this podcast is about, is really personal branding for LGBTQ professionals, or business owners, or whatever they might be doing. I find that it can be really challenging for people to really kind of understand what their personal brand stands for. What is that meaning that they're associating with themselves that they're going to go out there and market, and sell, and get people to follow them? Obviously when people are in alignment with their soul's journey even, when you're really aligned with what you're supposed to be doing in life, it makes things so much easier. But I find that most people are not that aligned. So from a personal branding standpoint, if there's somebody who's listening to this and they're like, "I can't even begin to follow what Rick and Jenn are saying right now. I'm just not there." Do you have any thoughts for them in terms of helping them kind of build and grow their personal brand from that place of authenticity? Because I think that's so incredible important, is the authenticity for anybody, but it feels even more so when we're relating that back to the LGBT community.
Rick Clemons: I love to have people start with something- it's going to sound really funny, but I do what I call the Do You Like Cookies exercise.
Jenn T Grace: Okay.
Rick Clemons: And what that is, is 'do you like cookies? Yes or no?' 'No.' 'Okay do you like ice cream? Yes or no?' 'Yes.' 'Really? What kind of ice cream do you like?' They tell me. 'What is it that you like about that ice cream?' They'll tell me. 'And if you could have all that ice cream that you wanted, what would that make you feel?' And then they tell me. Same thing could happen with the cookies. When they get done they're kind of looking at me like, 'Okay what does this have to do with me and my personal brand or how I show up?' I said, 'Because what you just did is you were completely authentic about what you liked. So why aren't you doing this in everything you're doing about what you do in your work, and what you want to be doing? Why aren't you being really honest with yourself about what you like and how you like to show up? So now let's do the exercise a different way. What do you like to do for work? What is it that really turns you on? What is that you go to work and you get lost in that you go, 'I could do this all day long.' Because that's the stuff you need to be paying attention to. I know for me if I could wake up every morning and do exactly what we're doing here all day long; the podcast, and radio show, and talk, and do talk interviews, and show up this way and then go hop on a stage and talk- if I could do that all day long, man I'm in my bliss point. Now that doesn't mean I don't get to do that, but there's a lot of things that come along with that, and that come along with my personal brand. But what I had to get used to doing is saying, "Yes I accept this is what I really like." This is what I really enjoy doing because when I'm dialed in to what I really enjoy doing, and I go do it, guess what starts to happen? Knock, knock, knock; opportunity shows up. And I think that's what a lot of people miss.
Jenn T Grace: I totally agree. Do you know of any particular assessments or tools that have helped clients of yours kind of identify their likes? Because I think that's another thing, is that not everyone even truly knows at the root of their being what they like and don't like because they've been so pre-programmed in so many ways to kind of be somewhat of a lemming and just following everyone else's path and not really paying attention to their own.
Rick Clemons: Sure there's a friend of mine who is now deceased but he has a beautiful brand that his wife has continued to carry forward now, and this is just recent, he just passed in the last year. But his brand is called Live Your Legend, and if you go to I believe www.LiveYourLegend.net, I don't believe it's a .com. But Live Your Legend, just Google it, you'll find it because he's done a Ted Talk and all these things. But he has this really beautiful passion exercise, and I remember doing that, and that was something that really helped me when I was doing some shifting within my brand trying to find some things. It helped really get pinpointed. The other thing that I have found- and this is a tool that I use for my coach's training, is an assessment- it's an energy assessment, it's called the Energy Leadership Assessment. I know people listening will go, 'Well what does that have to do with finding stuff?' Well what it does is it pinpoints how you show up in the world, your beliefs, your values, your purview, your lens that you're looking at things through so that we can see where the hidden roadblocks are. Because until we know what the hidden roadblocks are, we can't start to get them out of the way. But if you can get the roadblocks out of the way, then you start to move closer towards what you really are meant to be. So let's just take kind of the setup you just gave me, Jenn. Let's say someone shows up and says, "I'm really- I just don't know what my passion is, and I don't know how to even put a finger on it." Well I would do the assessment with them because I want to see what belief systems are they holding onto? How do they see the world? How are they approaching things in life? So one of the statements that they rank- and you rank these statements from totally agree to totally disagree, and everything kind of in between, but there's about six marks between there that you can rank things. So one of the statements is, 'The world is perfect just the way it is.' Now one person might say, "Hey that sounds great, I'm going to say I totally agree." Another person might say, "Oh no, I totally disagree." And another person might say, "Well I somewhat agree." But when you can see how somebody ranks that and you can dial in and let's go back to the person who says, "I totally disagree." What is it with the world that you see the world in this way, that it's keeping you from seeing it as perfect? Well they may have a belief system that says nothing can be perfect. They may have had a situation in their life where someone that they loved dearly was taken away from them, and their view is this is unfair, this is not the way the world's supposed to be. But then you take the person who says, "I totally agree that the world is perfect just the way it is," and you start to ask them the questions, "Explain to me why you have that outlook on the world." "Well because I have a belief system that says everything happens for a purpose. And everything we get to encounter in this world is for our best interest." So when you can start to see these things in individuals, you can start to help them go, "Okay based on that outlook, now if you believe everything happens in the world for a purpose, then how does that affect your view of you not being able to land on your passion? There may be a disconnect right there." If they believe everything happens for a purpose but they're like, "I think it's unfair that I still haven't been able to figure out my passion," well there's a big disconnect between those two things, and that's where we would start to do the work. Because as soon as we can release that block and bring more of, 'I see the world, and it's happening, and everything being done for me,' then maybe not finding your passion is being done for you so that you will get to it when it's meant to show up in the world. And I've seen this happen with a couple of my clients that have kind of been in that scenario. One of them was very much, 'Oh yeah, everything happens for a very beautiful reason, but I'm just so frustrated I can't figure out what I'm supposed to be doing.' And then suddenly as soon as we started working in that arena and she started going, "Oh I see I have a really big disconnect in my belief system to what I'm actually in action doing," literally within a month she started to figure out what she really wanted to be doing because that block had been put in a light, the spotlight was shining on it and she saw the inconsistency between how she was showing up, and she started making a very conscious effort to go, 'Even in my pursuit of my passion, it's happening exactly the way it's supposed to be happening for me,' and it was amazing to watch her release and her energy just shift so much, and literally a month later she was like, "I think I'm going to pursue this thing in photography," because she had a huge passion for photography, "and I'm going to trust that by telling the universe I'm following this, that somehow the right thing is going to show up that I get to-" and she was very smart; MBA, very smart business person, high up in her corporate position. She trusted that somehow the photography was going to interact with her corporate position and the ironic thing was she started to create programs internally where she took people that were very business focused, very logical, just that whole almost type A, like everything has to happen this way, and she started doing some very beautiful creative programs within the organization to incorporate photography, and drawing, and poem writing, and all these things to kind of loosen up the environment, and it ended up raising not only the consciousness within the organization, but started destressing and getting more communication happening. But it took her starting to see her own possibility before any of this could begin to happen.
Jenn T Grace: Wow, I feel like you just said a mouthful.
Rick Clemons: I did.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, I feel like everyone needs to go check out those resources that you were mentioning, so I'll make sure that I put them in the show notes. Because I do think-
Rick Clemons: Yeah, absolutely. www.LiveYourLegend.net is definitely- and then on my site you're going to see it's called the True You Process, and within the True You Process is that Energy Leadership Assessment that's just- it's so powerful. I've done it twice on myself, and it's amazing to see the shift you make. I do it with all my clients, that's the first thing we do. We do this assessment so I can see how do they think? How do they approach things? And whether they work with me a month, whether they work with me three months, six months, a year; somewhere along the way when I feel like the time's right, I do the assessment again and it's amazing to see the shifts in numbers because it gets them out of victim mentality, it helps them reduce conflict in their life, it guides them through the energy of just kind of settling and being okay, and being kind of, 'Things just happen because that's what's supposed to happen.' They don't make excuses any longer, and it moves them into a very conscious frame of mind of, 'I'm doing this and how can I do what I'm doing and making it a win-win, not only for me but for everyone else?'
Jenn T Grace: I love that. So your website is www.RickClemons.com and that's only with one M. So again, those will be in the show notes. And you said the Energy Assessment is on your website.
Rick Clemons: Yeah it's called the True You Process.
Jenn T Grace: True You Process.
Rick Clemons: So when you get to the services page it's called the True You Process and you can get a glimpse of what that's all about.
Jenn T Grace: Excellent, alright I'll make sure that that's linked up properly.
Rick Clemons: And for anyone who might be interested in doing this Jenn, I usually charge $159 to do that assessment, but I would give them my friends and family discount on that one, and I would do it for $99.
Jenn T Grace: Nice. It sounds so good because it really is an assessment, it's not just a 'Hey I took this online quiz that told me that I'm the yellow color.' It's more in depth and you're using it as a metric which I think is what most people are missing in their businesses generally, and even more so from a marketing side of things, is that they're not measuring anything that they're doing and then they're wondering why they're not seeing any type of needle moving.
Rick Clemons: Exactly.
Jenn T Grace: So as you were talking I pulled up your website, so now I'm going to derail us a little bit and ask you about your book. So I know that you've written a book and it's obviously in complete alignment with what you're doing. Can you just share with the listeners a little bit about that, and maybe about that process?
Rick Clemons: Sure, so it's been interesting. I tend to be somewhat of a spontaneous guy; ask my husband, he'll wake up on a Sunday morning and I'll have half the house torn apart with a hammer, "Guess what we're doing? We're remodelling this room today so go get recruits."
Jenn T Grace: I love it.
Rick Clemons: Put junky stuff on and here we go. But I wouldn't say that the book was that much of a spontaneous thing, but I do remember sitting down one day and going, 'I'm going to start writing.' And I've always had a passion for writing ever since I was fairly young, and I knew this book was within me given my coming out journey, and also because I'd started doing this work with other people. And I just felt like there's things that I needed to say, and I wasn't just going to do 'Here's Rick's memoir of coming out.' I could have done that, nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to do something more. I wanted to do something that said, 'Okay here's a glimpse of my journey, and then based on that glimpse of the journey, in this next chapter here's how you can go through that yourself. Finding your own path through it, but here are some recommendations, here are some things to explore, and then now let's jump back into the journey.' So that's basically the format of the book; every other chapter is memoir, and then the other chapter is practical how-to's in that arena. What I'm most proud of with this book is I feel that I've taken a very heavy subject, it's not pretty, and I'm the first to admit I'm a jerk and I'm an ass for what I did to a very beautiful woman. I also caveat that with until you've stood in someone's shoes who was given the societal pressure that many of us have been to do the right thing and be the right person, and then you add the faith-based sort of stuff, and numerous other things. And some of you might think, 'Oh he's making excuses.' I'm not making excuses, I'm just stating the facts. Until you've lived in those shoes, be very careful how you start to ridicule or judge someone. But what I wanted to do was do this in a way that said, 'This is a really heavy subject but there can be some humor along the way in this.' And not making fun of the journey but having fun with it. I mean there's an alter ego to mine, her name is Lemonade Pop, she's my inner diva, and she shows up throughout the book. She has this sarcastic flair to her. If I could create her in real life- I'm a big guy, I'm 6'4" I'm almost 300 pounds, so I'm a big guy, I'm a big linebacker guy. She would be a big African American diva, probably with platinum blonde or bright pink hair or something like that, and she would be sassy but yet very forthright. She's a little mix of- if anybody knows who Iyanla Vanzant is from Oprah's 'Fix Your Life.' She's a little bit of Iyanla with a little bit of Oprah mixed in, but then a very quiet almost like serene piece of- I don't know, hard to say, maybe like that shy Barbara Streisand who really doesn't like being on stage. There's that element to her as well. So she can be real sassy and out there, but then she can come to center really quickly. So that's what I brought into the book. A lot of my own experience, the laughter, the humor, the sadness, the authenticity- I feel like it's very authentic, and I'm just really proud of what I produced. And it wasn't like, 'Oh let's go do this' and it was done. It was done in like less than six months, I mean I wrote the book in less than six months. But then it sat there on the shelf for a couple years because I was in the midst, and for all you entrepreneurs out there, yes I was in the midst of chasing lots of bright, shiny objects trying to figure out who is Rick, and what is Rick's brand going to be? And I was trying to walk away from the coming out stuff because I'm like, 'I want to be more, I want to be doing something different,' and then it's so ironic to me that now- basically six years down the road from when I started as a coming out coach, and then kind of got derailed, and chased different things, and then the book was being written, and then a year ago I said, "I just want to get this book published." And now here we stand and I am fully embracing that I am the coming out coach, I help people come out of numerous things, I am an expert in that arena, and that the core of who I am is around uniqueness, and confidence, and making these quirky little things in our life work, which so aligns with coming through the closet doors and saying, "Frankly my dear, I'm gay." That was like the big impetus to everything. So in a weird way it all worked together. I feel really proud of it.
Jenn T Grace: And what did writing a book do for your business and for your speaking? What type of impact did you see once that was kind of out there in the world?
Rick Clemons: Well first of all for me personally, it was very cathartic. And there's even moments now when I will be at a book signing or a book reading and I'll read something and I'll kind of go, 'Wow I really wrote that. That's kind of scary that I put that out there in print the way I did.' But as far as for my business, what I've seen- and in fact this was really beautiful. I got to LA yesterday morning and there was a text on the app WhatsApp. I don't know if anybody's familiar with it, but WhatsApp is a beautiful texting tool you can use when you're travelling, especially out of the US. It's free and it helps you text and stay in touch. And I noticed there was a text on my WhatsApp, and it was obviously from a foreign country, I could tell by the number, and the message was this. 'Hi Rick, I've received your book. I've been reading it profusely and I just need you to know that it's helped me see that everything I've been thinking and feeling is exactly okay to be thinking and feeling. I'm a father of two, I love my wife dearly, but I realize the rejection in myself has to quickly in the near future come to an end. I look forward to meeting you someday, and hopefully when I can do it, possibly working with you.' And this was from a man in Barcelona, Spain.
Jenn T Grace: Wow. That's amazing.
Rick Clemons: And those moments there, when you say, 'What does your book do for you and your business?' It’s become the calling card in what I believe I was put here on the earth to do, which was be a support, be a warm embrace, be a different way of looking at things when you're deep in the heart of that thing that's got you in the clutches that you just believe you can't come out and say, 'This is who I am.' Again whether it's coming out to say you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender; I don't care what it is, or you're saying I need to escape cubicle nation and I need to go start my own business. All these things are the things that it's done for me in my business. It's helped me get really clear on how I go take this to the next level, and what the evergreen conversations are that I can now have because it's my calling card. It's the thing that says, 'This guy has some expertise in this arena and he's worth listening to.'
Jenn T Grace: That is so beautifully stated because that really I feel like is what it's all about. It's not about selling a million copies, it's about impacting the lives of individual people who need to hear your message to better their lives.
Rick Clemons: In fact I purposefully carry- you may do this too Jenn. All of us authors kind of tend to do this whether we're with a big publishing house or not. I carry a box of books with me in my car wherever I go.
Jenn T Grace: I do the same.
Rick Clemons: And I find it really interesting- yes I have them available if somebody wants to buy them of course, but I've found it very interesting how many times I've been having a conversation with someone and I just feel compelled to say, "Excuse me a minute, I want to go get you something." Because I just feel like I want to hand them this book and just say, "I think this might help you in some way." And it's interesting because yes it's geared toward the late in life bloomer who's been married, coming out so to speak. But two things that have shocked me the most- or I shouldn't say shocked, I mean I guess I'm just in amazement is number one, the number of heterosexual friends and acquaintances of mine who have bought the book to support me, but then they have turned around and they've actually read it. I know that sounds really weird. It's like, "Yeah I know you're just buying the book to support me and you're never going to read this." But it's amazing that they have read the book, and they have come back to me, and a couple of them have even posted these reviews on Amazon unsolicited saying, 'I'm a heterosexual female, single mother of three, and I know this sounds weird that I would be reading this book, but this book opened my eyes to my own sexual orientation stuff as a heterosexual woman, that I didn't realize I'd never dealt with. All the stuff from teenage and puberty that I still have not really contended with, and Rick helped me see how beautiful it is to just be who I am.' Those are the ones that I get really blown away by. The second one that really surprises me is I intended this book to be the 35 on up crowd. I've had more young people- so now I'm really aging myself when I'm going to say, 'You know people in their twenties, young people,' who have come up to me and said- in fact the last networking event I was at, a young guy bought my book, he's 26 years old and he goes, "Yeah I think I really need to read this because I just came out last year and I'm kind of late to the game." And I'm looking at him going, "Hunny, 25 years old, to me you're kind of early to the game." But in his mind, many of his friends came out when they were fourteen, seventeen, eighteen, twenty, so in his mind he's a late bloomer. And so I think that's just really powerful stuff to see how a book, no matter what you, the author- what frame you put it in, it has so many more different ways that it can reach out and really impact people.
Jenn T Grace: And I think that books are amazing because they will stay around long after you're gone. So I think for me it's kind of knowing that my words will live on if I am not around; they're still impacting people, and that's really kind of the ultimate goal that many of us have, and I think that's why you and I connected so well when we did, was that we both have this much bigger purpose in life than just ourselves.
Rick Clemons: And you know to that point Jenn, I wish people would embrace that to leave a legacy, whatever that is and however big or small it is, is part of your purpose here on earth. Every one of us has a legacy to leave. Even if your legacy is somebody saw you stop and pick a ladybug up in the middle of a sidewalk, and move it over onto a plant so that ladybug continued to have life. If that's the only legacy you ever leave on the planet is someone saw you do that, then own that, and be it, and let it be. And I think often we think we have to have these grandiose things we do. Yes I agree with you 100%, I know there's words that I have now written that are there. They're never going to die. Someone, somewhere- I mean how do we have all these beautiful works of the masters still that we can see and read? It's because someone said this was important enough to keep around. I think each of us has words, and pieces of ourselves that are important enough to keep around, and that's another reason why I do the work I do, is to help people realize you have something to leave, and you have an impact to have on this planet.
Jenn T Grace: I love that. I feel like this is such a good way to end it. I feel like we could talk all day, and I feel like you have- and this is not a back-handed insult, you have the voice for radio. You have such a soothing quality to your voice that I feel like the listeners could probably listen to you all day as well.
Rick Clemons: Oh well thank you.
Jenn T Grace: So for those who want to get in touch with you, how- what is your preferred means of them doing so?
Rick Clemons: The best way is probably to literally either hop on my website, you can fill out a form on my contact page, but I really like the direct contact. You can email me at Rick@rickclemons.com, and again as Jenn said that's Clemons with one M, -ONS. So just think C and then lemons, that's the easiest way to always remember that Clemons. Rick@rickclemons.com. Shoot me and email and say, 'Hey I heard you on Jenn's podcast, and I just wanted to connect,' and especially if you want to do the True You Assessment make sure you say, 'I want to do the True You Assessment, I heard you on Jenn's podcast,' that way I can get you that $99 rate to do that, and I'd love to be a part of that and bring that into your life to help you open up to all the beautiful possibilities of what it is for you to be truly you.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah this is amazing. Thank you so much for spending the time today. I feel certain that the listeners are going to love this.
Rick Clemons: Well thank you for having me, Jenn. It's always a pleasure and I look forward to many, many things we're going to do together.
Jenn T Grace: Oh you bet.
Thank you for listening to today's podcast. If there are any links from today's show that you are interested in finding, save yourself a step and head on over to www.JennTGrace.com/thepodcast. And there you will find a backlog of all of the past podcast episodes including transcripts, links to articles, reviews, books, you name it. It is all there on the website for your convenience. Additionally if you would like to get in touch with me for any reason, you can head on over to the website and click the contact form, send me a message, you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all at JennTGrace. And as always I really appreciate you as a listener, and I highly encourage you to reach out to me whenever you can. Have a great one, and I will talk to you in the next episode.